While there’s usually nothing out of the ordinary about a grand opening of an ADI branch, that’s definitely not the case for its La Vista, Neb., location, which will officially open on May 1.
Serving the greater Omaha market, the new branch is the 100th for Melville, N.Y.-based ADI, which itself is a significant milestone. But more importantly, it marks a new direction of sorts for the company as the first of what ADI Americas president, Michael Flink, says is a different style of branch for the distributor called ADI Express — which is smaller in size, with a smaller showroom, but still offering virtually the same stock and programs as ADI’s other 99 branches in 65 major markets in across North America.
“We’ve put the primary value of ADI into a smaller footprint, 3,500 square feet versus 8,000 square feet,” Flink said in an exclusive pre-opening interview with SDM. “It’s a more traditional distribution outlet with a sales counter with the inventory in behind, with a smaller showroom and smaller training facility. It still has the 24-hour pickup room and almost the same assortment of products, just in a smaller footprint.”
The decision to deviate from the traditional branch style was based on the extensive research Flink says ADI performs every two years to determine opportunities for potential new branches. The most recent round of research identified several opportunities in smaller markets, but that the sales volume in those markets wouldn’t be as high as at a typical ADI branch. So ADI Express was born.
“We’ve always felt that there is value in local markets, where our branches have become 365-day-a-year trade shows. But we’ve found that after an hour of drive time to get there, customers don’t visit the branch much,” Flink says. “With this new model, we want to make it more convenient for installers in places that are under-served in the marketplace but that are still good markets.”
Obviously, with a smaller showroom, ADI Express branches are somewhat limited in the products they can put on display out front, but ADI has a plan for that.
“What we’ll put out front are newer technologies and products that open up new markets and profit opportunities for dealers,” Flink says, adding that dealers will also be encouraged to request products from behind the counter to check out and evaluate. “We have a big counter space and lots of room for them to take a look at two or three cameras, for example.”
Following a soft opening, the Omaha branch has been operating quietly and early indications are that it’s doing well in what is a new market for ADI, Flink says. A second branch is planned for September, but the location hasn’t yet been announced. The plan is to see how the two ADI Express locations perform over six to 12 months to determine whether to move forward with more of this type of store.
“By this time next year, we’ll be able to make a decision on how many of these branches to open and how fast to open them,” Flink says. “There are a lot of markets like Omaha that are under-served by a strong distributor or have no distributor at all but that are still pretty big markets.”
In addition to the distribution angle, these markets also don’t have easy access to the type of training programs ADI offers, making the smaller-market play even more important, Flink says.
“Training has become so important, and it’s a challenge for the vendor community if there’s no strong distributor in a market that offers a training program. So local dealers are out of luck because the vendors aren’t going to send a corporate trainer to Omaha for one or two dealers,” he says. “That’s the real value of this kind of location.”
If the company moves forward with the ADI Express model, Flink says the new style of ADI could become a major part of the distributor’s growth strategy.
“Over the next three to five years, this could significantly expand the ADI footprint in North America,” he says.