With just three months to go before the 2018 InAVation Awards, Charlotte Ashley speaks to the company recognised as ‘Distributor of the Year’ at the 2017 event to find out the secret behind its success.
“Our tagline is ‘our expertise is your advantage’ and we shouldn’t say it if it’s not true,” explains Jon Dew-Stanley, director at Midwich’s technical division, on what led to the company’s success at the InAVation Awards last February. “We can’t just be a warehouse with availability and a credit line –we need to be much more than that.”
“Our investment in training is an integral part of the puzzle,” he says. And the facts back that up – the UK-distributor spent its highest amount on record, £257,000 (€290,000), on staff education last year and is currently putting its entire technical team through CTS training so employees can offer advice and expertise across the board to customers. “We may have a specialist in audio, but they should have a good understanding of the system that connects to the video system or the signal distribution on the network,” adds Dew-Stanley, whose 36-strong team has already supported over 2,000 customers in 2017.
This approach goes beyond specialists into account management too – as the result of an increased focus on customer-wide surveys to target areas of the business in need of development. “We wanted our account managers to be able to handle those frontline calls – not just do quotes or point them in right direction, but increase their knowledge and improve the service time back to the customer,” explains Iain Campbell, sales director at Midwich. “Improving customer service is a continuous process – it’s never a one-hit approach for us,” adds Dew-Stanley.
At the heart of the business is the careful balance and marriage of bringing technology to market and listening to integrators’ needs. “We’re increasingly trying to do is take technology out to the market, help and support integrators to deliver that technology effectively.” He continues: “It’s about so much more than what a product does than what it is – for instance, in education showing how a lecture can be more than a PowerPoint on a screen by demonstrating the benefit of teachers being able to take somebody’s work and present someone else’s next to it or record their class – actually moving the technology forward.”
With an increasing migration to centralised equipment going on the network, Dew-Stanley says it’s more important than ever Midwich be on hand to offer assistance at any stage of a project; “My team sits there with prospective products that are keeping continuously informed so that if an integrator is putting together a project and wants to know if X is possible they can talk to someone and instantly find out.”
Expansion has also been key to driving the company forward – with the distributor recently increasing its presence in Europe with the acquisition of Netherlands-based specialist Gebroeders van Domburg, following on from the acquisition of Earpro earlier this year. It now employs over 650 people across the UK and Ireland, France, Germany, Iberia, Benelux and Australasia. “It was great to receive the InAVation Award as it was recognition across Europe for the Midwich Group,” says Campbell. “We’ve got a decent footprint here and can service around 70% of the AV market. But for us, it’s important we don’t buy and forget – that’s definitely not what we do, and we want to keep the owners in the business.”
The company recently announced a revenue increase of 33.6% to £211.6 (€237.9) million for the first half of 2017. Midwich may have surpassed the traditional role of the distributor and moulded itself as an international partner to its integrator and reseller customers, but the company hopes to support every type of company; “We’re proud that the credit that we put into the channel, £56 million in total, helps customers of all sizes win their business,” says Campbell.