Partnership Possibilities: When Distributors Unite

July 14, 2016
How partnerships in the product distribution world can bring benefits to the channel

Distributors serve as not only a means to buying product, but they are also a valuable resource for project information, training and installation. Distributors are reliable in any industry, always having what you need at a moment’s notice. Once distributors unite, however, their partnership enables them to provide even better service in more locations as well as expertise on a much broader range of products and services.

Distributor alliances are not exclusive in the security industry, but they are rare for a few reasons. One is that there simply are not enough distributors across the country to form multiple alliances or partnerships, which tend to form more frequently between retailers and dealers because of quantities, rather than those on the wholesale side. Similar alliances exist in other industries, so it is not a unique type of partnership.

Whether your market is rocket ships, luggage, hardware or food, the goal of any distributor alliance or partnership is first and foremost to discuss best practices; however, being a distributor alliance in the AV and security spaces brings in other elements that may not affect other categories. As an example, in our industry, the PowerHouse Alliance is different than an alliance of luggage dealers, who would not require the same level of training or technical knowledge as we are. Because of the technical nature of the security and AV industry, it takes a significant amount of training to understand the categories, products, and if and how they work together.


An Alliance Means Discounts

A major benefit of a distributor alliance is buying power — the alliance gains a competitive edge by pulling together to purchase greater quantities or product for a reduced price. A primary factor in our product purchases is ensuring that our members and their dealers have what they need, and getting them the right types of products exactly when needed.

For the partnerships in any industry, having the right products starts by choosing the best vendor partners, which we do using a wide variety of factors. In our case, before we agree to represent a manufacturer, each of our members vote the vendor in. Taking on a new line is a selective and involved process because in our industry, we have to not only buy the line upfront, but train our salesforce and dealers about the products.


Other Benefits

It may be a difficult process, but vendor partners are crucial to any alliance to supply members with the best variety of state-of-the-art stock to suit their needs. As consumers are now paying more attention to home automation and entertainment systems, this has become an expanding category for security dealers. Embracing new technologies as the market shifts is how we can provide value to members and their dealers, and strengthen the alliance and industry overall.

Additional advantages of an alliance is that they have access to an extended network of distributors who have experience and resolutions to a wider variety of issues as well as product knowledge. Distributor partners and their customers can benefit from the broad knowledge base by using them for help with product, technical issues and project planning. This also falls under best practices, and is a major benefit of a partnership for the obvious reason that the shared knowledge of a network of distributors is much larger than that of a single one. Not to mention, with an alliance, there is a much faster reaction time when assistance is needed.

Other advantages that a distributor alliance offers include convenience, local inventory and training in many accessible locations. As fewer integrators are stocking product on their own, distributor alliances have an edge in the local touch in each location.

There is also an education component that alliances offer, where distributors provide diverse training programs to help acclimate dealers to new technology, solutions and installation methods. They also serve as a resource to help integrators plan a project.

This shared network of resources from the team of distributors helps to improve the overall education, consistency and efficiency across the network. This advantage alone can demonstrate how alliances play a key role in supporting the industry by strengthening integrators’ ability to problem-solve, provide the latest products and quality service for their customers.


Dennis Holzer is Executive Director of the PowerHouse Alliance. Request more info at

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