Industry Insider: Interdyn Introduces A Plus Brands
As part of our new Industry Insider series of articles, StereoNET caught up with long-established distributor, Interdyn, and the team at its Melbourne office for an insight into its new division, A Plus Brands.
With over 60 years in the business, the future looks bright for Interdyn Group.
It’s the companies, and the faces within that ultimately drive our local industry; making the decisions that determine which brands will be available to the Australian market, at what pricing, and where they'll be available to consumers.
Some wholesalers and distributors prefer to fly under the radar at a consumer level buffered behind their specialist retail outlets, while others proudly fly their flags supporting their brands on the front line, welcoming customer enquiries and offering technical support. There's no right or wrong here, just two different approaches.
If you've ever worked within the Australian industry or been around long enough to remember one of the founding retailers of the Melbourne Hi-Fi market, Encel Stereo, then Interdyn also generally needs little introduction.
Established in June of 1960 by Alex Encel, Interdyn today is headed up by son Sam Encel, and university friend Evgeny Vizelman - a dynamic duo.
Evgeny Vizelman (left), Sam Encel (right)
StereoNET caught up with the team at Interdyn, and its newly established offshoot, A Plus Brands, this week for an ensuing walk down memory lane combined with a glimpse at what the future looks like for this iconic business.
Walking in the footsteps of father Alex, Sam was destined to work in the Australian AV industry. Recalling his earliest memories as a 'car park attendant' at the rear of the Encel Stereo store in Richmond, the job was an important one; ensuring only the store's customers filled the limited parking spaces, for which he'd be paid the token fee of $5 a day.
That was twenty-five years ago, and both Encel Stereo and its wholesale division, International Dynamics (Interdyn) would go on to be hugely successful over the next decades, under Alex’s direction.
But as Alex reached retirement age, and Sam came of age, shortly after the turn of the century the market saw a downturn. The internet had changed how business was done, marketing techniques required new thinking, and faced with the challenge of filling Alex's shoes, Sam had his work cut out for him.
There was no secret that both businesses were running with substantial losses at the time. And as Alex handed the reigns to Sam, he said: “you can only fix one, not both”.
And soon, a plan was hatched.
As Operations Manager at Interdyn, Evgeny had already accepted the challenge of cutting costs and refining internal processes to stop the bleeding.
Sheer luck perhaps, but the decision to fix 'just one' was probably made easier in 2014 when an offer arrived from a property developer to purchase the Bridge Road, Richmond, store and home of Encel Stereo. What was unquestionably the end of an era, Encel Stereo closed its doors for the last time shortly afterwards.
A turning point for the Encel family business, Sam and Evgeny now had a clear focus on the new challenge that faced them.
In only a short few years, the business partners and friends have managed to not only bring the company back into the black but also improved the performance of its legacy brands with a 70% increase in revenue. The business is now profitable - but more on that later.
And like any business, tough decisions have had to be made along the way. Adopting a less is more approach, the brand portfolio has been refined by parting ways with some brands but opening the doors for others.
Interdyn has distributed Rotel for an impressive 52 Years! To our knowledge that is the longest period that one distributor in Australia has distributed any brand. And that’s not about to change.
And as Sam speaks proudly of Interdyn's distribution portfolio in 2018, another pillar of the Interdyn family and business is introduced.
The news that industry stalwart, Paul Clarke, had announced his exit from Interdyn's competitor, Audio Active, spread like wildfire back in May this year.
Speculation of where Clarke would be heading and what he would be doing was rife. But with hindsight and what Interdyn refers to as its ‘2020 Strategy’, foundations had already been laid.
Sam spoke of his respect for what Paul has achieved in his forty successful years within the Australian industry and watching with a keen but cautious eye from a distance, admiration for Paul’s ability.
By July, it emerged that Paul would be joining a new division of Interdyn, or what Sam refers to as “another pillar” of the business, as General Manager of A Plus Brands.
For Interdyn, maintaining vision and focus on its core business and maximising the potential of its brands has been paramount. But for Sam and Evgeny, there was scope to do more.
Interdyn recognised Paul's ability and brought him into the fold. As General Manager of A Plus Brands, Paul operates autonomously with his own team for sales, support and accounts, with his own brand line-up, and draws upon the additional resources available within the Interdyn company.
If you scramble the 'A Plus' letters, you'll discover 'Pauls' Brands. Our guess is this discovery was more than entirely intentional, if not a little humorous, and Paul credits his wife, Sue, for coming up with the name.
The A Plus Brands line-up today includes the newly acquired Monitor Audio, Roksan, Artnovion, Blue Horizon, and Showtime AV.
A Plus is all about allowing Interdyn to scale sustainably and allowing us to take on new brands while achieving our mission of reaching the maximum sales potential of both new and legacy brands.
Through an investment in 2018 of over half a million dollars, we now have two separate and quarantined sales organs - the Interdyn and A Plus teams - each with less than ten brands under management.
This level of brand focus is unprecedented in a full-service Australia/New Zealand distributor. At the same time, the broader revenue base will allow us to more efficiently offer and build upon the innovative services dealers receive across our whole portfolio.
From left to right: Evgeny Vizelman, Sam Encel, Nadine Lampard, Paul Clarke, Tom Jolly
The A-team also includes Nadine Lampard who fills the role of Relationship Manager. After many years with Audio Active, Nadine left the industry briefly before a change of heart aligned perfectly with the position opening at A Plus Brands.
The affable Tom Jolly is responsible for Technical and Customer Support, while Matt Walker also supports the Custom Installation products across both A Plus Brands and Interdyn.
The new additions have seen the Interdyn organisation growing to a total of 21 staff across Australia and New Zealand. Considering the business was not-profitable only a few short years ago speaks loudly of the focus, determination and ability that is evident from Sam Encel and Evgeny Vizelman.
The A Plus team will make independent decisions on things like the dealer network, pricing and marketing. Some stores may have access to Interdyn brands only, some A Plus brands only, and for others, both.
In the latter case, these dealers will be called on by separate reps who can focus intently on their respective brand portfolios. Stores accessing brands from both units will continue to work off the one Interdyn ordering system and their existing credit account.
And in what is another display of the next-gen Director's commitment to the business and future, Interdyn has pledged to invest 100% of its profits back into the company for the next two years.
With an extensive team who are not afraid to be dynamic or to push the envelope, combined with Clarke's four-plus decades of experience within the industry, the future indeed is bright for the Interdyn Group.