Getting More from Your Distributor

With hands-on product demos and the latest training, distributors offer more than merchandise

Even though security dealers and integrators recognize the value in staying up-to-date with the latest products, taking time out of a busy work schedule isn't easy. It can be tough enough just keeping up with the demands of business, so the idea of taking technicians out of the field and putting them in the classroom might not sound appealing. However, many distributors   now offer training and product demonstrations to fit their customers' demanding schedules and competitive businesses.


Adding value

Distributors have a vested interest in dealers knowing how to properly install and maintain their products. After all, if a dealer doesn't fully understand how a product works or when it's applicable, then that could also hurt a distributor's business.

“ADI recognizes the needs of our dealers and the latest trends in the market and we work to create training opportunities to enable dealers to be more competitive,” said Michael Masten , training manager, ADI, Melville , N.Y. He added that ADI's training courses are brand neutral.

Tim Rogers, Datacom Division manager, Target Distributing, Germantown , Md. , likens his company to a “convergence headquarters” for the role it can play in helping dealers sort out the new technologies popping up today. “Target Distributing has the reputation as enablers in our industry,” said Rogers . “Not only do we offer training to our dealers in their core competencies but we help expand their value to the end user by introducing them to new and exciting technologies like VoIP.”

“One of the distinct advantages distributors offer to dealers is their ability to provide a complete solution,” explained Brian James, vice president, Northern Video Systems, Rocklin , Calif. “This is true when it comes to training and product demos. We can provide the information through training plus the demos on multiple brands and product types.”

Distributors also can enable dealers to expand their business beyond security. “Many security dealers have an opportunity to enter the installed entertainment side of the business,” noted Bob Gartland , president, AVAD, Van Nuys , Calif. “They have the client relationships and AVAD can teach them how to be in the business.”


  Training methods

The different types of training offered by distributors vary. As such, dealers and integrators should be sure to look around and compare the offerings to their own needs if that's an option in their location.

“SGI hosts several training courses and product demos throughout the year concerning different product categories including home automation, intrusion, fire and access control,” explained Kristen Houseton, marketing manager, SGI, San Antonio , Texas . “We hold training and counter days during business hours at our branches as well as evening events which entail manufacturer's displays, dinner, drinks, music and a raffle. We also hold our version of a tradeshow called the SGI Showcase three to four times a year with training classes throughout the day and exhibits in the evening. These typically take place at a hotel in one of our markets.”

Adam Foley, vice president, Digital Watchguard (DWG), Merrick , N.Y. , said his company offers product trainings and demonstrations ranging from general overviews of a particular manufacturer's offerings to in-depth technical training on a specific product. “[DWG's training] locations vary depending on the manufacturer and expected crowd,” continued Foley. “Some are done in-house at our headquarters, some at a manufacturer's location and others at hotel conference centers.”

“Graybar provides a variety of training courses at various branches throughout the country,” said Paul H. Koebbe , national market manager, Security, Graybar Electric Co., St. Louis . “We offer courses such as Fundamentals of CCTV, Fundamentals of Access Control, Enable the Cable, Data Center Redesign and Registered Communications Distribution Designer (RCDD) exam preparation. In 2008, Graybar plans to offer additional courses to address industry concerns such as IP systems and basic networking concepts.”

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