The man many industry veterans deem as having defined modern security distribution is back in action. When the press release announcing "Steve Roth Heads Investment Group in Acquisition of Tri-Ed Distribution" hit the streets, word of the news traveled fast. For the many who have missed his presence on the landscape these last few years, it was cause for celebration.
Roth served as President of ADI from its inception in 1985 through early 2001. He took what began as a small operation with a handful of branches and grew it into the industry leader with 100+ branches in the U.S., Canada, Puerto Rico and Mexico. "We were insignificant compared to the distribution competition back then," he recalls. "But we stayed the course."
Honored as one of the 25 most influential people in the security industry at last year's ISC West, Steve Roth's name is synonymous not only with success, and the solidification of "the service people," but also with the strong relationships he's forged over his career. Not one to hide away in the ivory tower, Roth was always out and in front of his customers and vendors at almost every industry event, trade show, meeting and mixer. He obviously made a lasting impression.
In speaking with him just days after news of the acquisition hit, he relays, "I'm truly overwhelmed by the level of good wishes and support that I'm receiving from so many people-the press, vendors, customers, so many old friends. It's an emotional type of a reunion, to a degree, as I get back and reconnect with people who I have not had a business or personal relationship with for a few years. It's great to be back."
Roth is now busy looking forward as the president and CEO of Tri-Ed. Together with his management team, Pat Comunale as Chief Operating Officer and James Rothstein as Senior Vice President, Roth is intently focused on the future-Tri-Ed's future, in particular.
Leaning back in his chair, Steve, in his affable way, smiles and says: "Okay, why do I want to do it again? And, what IS 'Do it again?' It's not to recreate what we had, and go back to that memory and say 'Wow, we did it once, we can do it again.' It's that sometimes a confluence of events occurs to create a special opportunity. You evaluate that opportunity and realize that it requires action."
Acquiring Tri-Ed was the appropriate course of action, according to Roth. "The opportunity," he says, "consists of a large and expanding market without a strong number two player. I'm not presumptuous enough to even remotely think that we're going to amass the momentum and resources necessary to overtake the industry leader. That's not our objective."
The plan that Roth, Comunale and Rothstein have for the newly acquired Tri-Ed, which consists of over 200 employees and 26 sales offices in the U.S., Canada and Puerto Rico, includes significant growth in footprint expansion, product and brand availability, and infrastructure enhancements. No one knows better that, regardless of the extent of your plan, this is largely a local business catering to mid to smaller sized dealers that are dependent upon a strong distributor for financing, inventory availability and technical support when required.
"Business is really transacted more on a local basis relying upon service level and relationships," says Roth. "I understand this industry and the dynamic behind it. I understand the significant service requirements of suppliers and it's a comfortable feeling to re-engage in this business."
A Major Undertaking
Although Tri-Ed has been a successful business in Canada and an emerging one in the U.S., it's important to remember that this was an under-performing asset of Tyco, according to Roth. It has been running with minimal support or resources. Roth and his team plan to change that quickly. "We've inherited systems and infrastructure that require major re-work. But I must give a great deal of credit to the people who were there. They held the fort and maintained the business. And that was no small task. They've done a magnificent job with the resources they were given; now we can provide them with more."