Dealers and manufacturers fill the tent at the Vend-O-Palooza at AVAD’s Ft. Lauderdale, Fla. branch.

Ever heard of a Vend-O-Palooza? It’s what you get when you put leading manufacturers, hundreds of dealers, new products, special pricing, raffles, giveaways, popcorn and Texas BBQ all under the same tent at AVAD branches around the country.
The event, started in 2008, is held all around the country at varying AVAD branches — make that 20 times in 2009 to be exact.
I had the chance to attend the final Vend-O-Palooza of the 2009 season at the AVAD branch in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla. AVAD LLC, Van Nuys, Calif., has traditionally offered high quality home integration solutions in such categories as home theater, lighting controls, distributed audio/video and central vacuum. With that in mind, I might seem a little outnumbered as a member of the security industry. But that wasn’t the case. AVAD announced it would offer products for security systems and security monitoring services through distribution agreements with DSC and COPS Monitoring. Both companies were on hand at the event – as well as many of the area’s security dealers, who were happy to start taking advantage of the convenience AVAD’s new product line offers.
“It is nice to have everything in one location,” said Richard Alexander, A.E.S. Systems Inc, Pembroke Pines, Fla. “There will always be that situation where you need something, that one additional product, and having everything at one location definitely makes it easier.”
I have to admit, with the big white tent filling the parking lot, the smell of popcorn and Texas BBQ in the air and the buzz of hundreds of simultaneous conversations, the atmosphere was pretty contagious.
The training was contagious as well. Each presenter I sat in on was highly enthusiastic and knowledgeable about the topic they were training on. How else would I, a person who has problems reprogramming the VCR after the power goes out, be pumped up about how to choose the correct bass for a home theater system and understand the set-up techniques for integrating subwoofers with systems after attending “Certified Bass Professional, Level One” offered by Velodyne? The 90-minute certification course earned one full CEDIA CEU credit for attendees who passed the test afterwards. While I won’t be taking the test, I will appreciate home theater bass on a whole new level.
AVAD also made good on its promise to providing training and support on how to install, market and sell security for its current clients entering the security industry, offering “Introduction to Security” by DCS at the event.
As AVAD’s new senior marketing and training manager, Steve Honig can take some of the credit for the outstanding training I just mentioned, and he’ll be working on creating more. Honig, who has more than 35 years of experience in sales, training and management, also manages AVAD University, AVAD's continuing education program that makes manufacturers directly available to dealers through product training seminars hosted on-site at each of the 28 North American AVAD locations.
“The classes we offer are designed to help our dealers earn more money and become more professional,” Honig commented. “Our idea is to give them something [training] they might not get on their own, with a broad enough offering that they will be able to find something that has meaning to them.”
Each year, AVAD University offers over 450 online and classroom continuing education classes. I’d call that “broad.”
I also had the chance to meet Cynthia Menna, who was recently promoted to the position of senior manager, business development. In her new role, Menna works with AVAD executives to identify, develop, manage and facilitate the growth of new product categories, service offerings and solution sets. Her take on AVAD’s entry into the security industry?
“We are excited about this,” Menna said. “The security focus is big deal to us. We think we have a lot to offer security dealers with it, including our show rooms. We offer dealers a ‘sample tool kit’ with constantly changing displays that they can bring their customers in to see. The technologies are real and live here, and that creates a huge selling advantage.
“This is not just another place to pick up product,” Menna concluded. “If that’s what dealers are used to, they will find us very refreshing.”