Anixter & Tri-Ed 1 Year Later: An Exclusive Interview
On September 17, 2014, distributor giant Anixter (Glenview, IL) acquired Tri-Ed Distribution (Woodbury, NY) for $420 million. As the one-year anniversary of the acquisition approaches, Bill Galvin, executive vice president at Anixter, and Pat Comunale, president of Global Security Solutions at Tri-Ed, discuss with SDM how the integration between the merged businesses has progressed, what are their strategic plans for growth, and how systems integrators are better served by the combined entity with all of its resources and services.
SDM: How has Anixter’s acquisition of Tri-Ed strengthened each of those businesses?
Galvin: The Tri-Ed acquisition added to Anixter’s current position in the security market, because we were able to leverage Tri-Ed’s unique position in the security integrator market. The breadth of products and solutions that Anixter brought to Tri-Ed, which was primarily in the IP video space, has been tremendous. With the Tri-Ed acquisition, Anixter can now offer its customers a much broader product offering.
SDM: Can you share your global expansion plans?
Galvin: Anixter is in over 50 countries. It’s our intent to take the solution set that Tri-Ed provides into some of the biggest countries we’re in first and then to expand that as we go forward and gain experience in those countries. We’ve already publicly said that Mexico and the U.K. are the first two markets that we’re moving into with those capabilities. We then plan to extend that into other places in Europe as well as in Latin America and Asia Pacific.
Comunale: We operate in a fragmented market, and when you put the combination of Tri-Ed and Anixter together, we now have a full complement of products that we can sell to the small security integrators as well as the high-end A/V and IP integrators.
Galvin: The combination of Anixter with Tri-Ed’s model — the storefront, the phone support and technical support — now offers North American customers more capabilities, more presence and the ability to service customers the way they want to do business, whether it’s on the phone, in person or in a branch.
Comunale: We’ll be launching a world-class e-commerce platform before the end of the year. But if a customer wants to do business locally, we can support them through one of our 100 field sales offices.
SDM: How do you approach your partnership with dealers and integrators?
Galvin: Integrators who had done business with Anixter probably focused on a small segment of the market — probably IP video and other networking solutions. Now integrators have the ability to go to Anixter for everything they need.
So to me, they gained a lot of technical expertise and for those that are global or national, they have the ability now to do business with us consistently everywhere in the world because Anixter runs as one global company. We don’t run businesses separately around the world where they operate completely on their own. We operate as one global strategy, on one global platform. So our ability to support integrators the same way anywhere in the world is a capability that really nobody else has. These customers will also have, on a local basis, the ability to access a much broader solution set and do it consistently.
Comunale: We’re the only distributor with its own UL certified lab, which is quite impressive, and this is part of what gets me excited when I think about Anixter. We test products independently of the manufacturers’ performance specifications, and if we’re working on a large project, we can replicate an end user’s system. So when he takes it out to the job site he knows exactly how it’s going to perform.
Galvin: We have nine SOLUTIONS Briefing Centers around the world — similar to The Lab, just not as expansive, plus we have a scaled-down version in many other locations.
In The Lab, an integrator can look at the different technologies and put together a solution they’re bringing to an end-user. So when we get into those positions and we’re able to deploy that type of technology capability, it really enhances the integrator’s capabilities.
Whether it’s preprogramming IP cameras, burning them in, testing them or a complex deployment that includes 20 manufacturers and many more products, we’ll collaborate with the integrator to pull all that together and help the integrator manage that complex project.
SDM: To what extent have you integrated the security business?
Galvin: We closed this acquisition in September, 2014, and by the next January, we had the sales organization and strategy set up. The speed and pace at which we’ve moved this integration and both organizations’ willingness and desire to collaborate together has allowed us to better and more quickly serve our customers.