Who is Snap AV?
When a new company is founded, often the owner proclaims that they will change the way the market operates.
Very few succeed.
In the US, however, a young manufacturing company has delivered on what it promised and has managed to make installers rethink the way they do business.
Based in Charlotte, North Carolina, Snap AV was established in 2006 by former custom installer Jay Faison. Now, with over 900 (and growing) custom and specialist products, the SnapAV business model has seen it grow 646% through some tough economic times. It has increased its revenues from $2.1 million in 2006 to $16 million in 2009.
And now it has reached Australia.
For the 11 years prior to starting Snap AV, Jay owned Zobo.tv – a custom installation outfit that was a permanent fixture on the CE Pro 100 list, which identifies America’s highest earning integrators.
In 2006, frustrated by the quality of products they were supplied and the premiums they were paying, Jay opened Snap AV. In 2010, the company was ranked 442nd on the ‘Inc. 500’ – Inc. Magazine’s ranking of the fastest-growing private companies in the US.
“While at Zobo.tv, we started importing our own furniture from Guatemala because we couldn’t find AV furniture that fit our AV gear,” he says.
“This taught us a lot about how to import and design products. And when I found out how much these products cost to make in China, I was shocked. The premium we were paying was three to five times the cost price.
“As a result, we decided to start a business that would level the playing field for custom installers and give them an opportunity to make more money.”
The company now operates six brands under the Snap AV umbrella:
- Binary Cables
- Episode Speakers
- Strong Mounts
- Dragonfly Screens
- Binary Bulk Wire
- Strong Racks
“We have set up our business to be different from all the others out there,” Jay says.
“We don’t have a catalogue and we do most of our business over the internet. Further, we don’t have reps, we don’t sell to distributors, and we don’t sell to grey markets.
“We also don’t sell to end users; you can only buy our product through installers, so we are doing everything we can to protect installers and their margins.”
In the US, the company has developed a ‘Bill of Rights’, which explains all of the expectations dealers should look forward to from the company, including loyalty programs, profit potential, product availability, shipping times and the return policy.
“These obligations mean it is good business sense for dealers to work with us,” Jay says.
“I understand that some won’t, because choosing a supplier can become an emotional decision, which is harder to untangle. But, really there are three considerations you should make before picking a supplier – price, quality and service.”
While not called the Bill of Rights in Australia, the local distributor, TotalQ, will set out nine expectations that their dealers can expect from them.
“We’ve been dealing with installers for a long time and the ability to buy a significant range of products from a single supplier is definitely appealing,” says TotalQ managing director Rob Sanders.
“Of course, getting access to all of the products is important, too, so an ordering system that works over the internet allows dealers to look at the status of stock, whether it is in stock or when it might be arriving, and allows them to place the order 24 hours a day.”
In the first instance not every product available in the US will make it to Australia because of voltage differences, such as power conditioning products and some amplifiers, but in time they will be changed to switch-mode power supplies to work here.
“The way custom installers have conducted business in the past in terms of potential margins, the process of selling products, the breadth and width of products you can order and the support you get – all those things are important. Snap AV will offer them an overall package that includes margin, product range, stock availability and a simple ordering process.”
Dealers will also have the added benefit of having access to all of the other brands TotalQ distributes, such as HAL and RedEye, on the one website.
The company will be officially launched in Australia at the CEDIA Expo in Sydney, 11-13 May. Products can already be ordered via the website, www.snapav.com.au.