In late December 2012, just days before the January Consumer Electronics Show, there was a relatively significant shift in alliances in the world of national distributor groups that we reported on. First we learned of the creation of a new group, CatalystAV – a group whose announcement contained the names of four members of the existing Digital Delivery Group (DDG) group. We also learned that DDG, in addition to losing some key members, had also parted ways with existing Executive Director Dave Kaplan and hired Daniel Kippycash of The DaVinci Group as his replacement.
Now 90-days later, Kippycash updates us on the group’s progress…
Kippycash told us that the group has been very busy with multiple, parallel projects that are progressing nicely – if somewhat slower than originally expected. In fact, he learned very quickly that several initiatives turned out to be inter-related, which added a degree of complexity to the whole process of refocusing the organization.
There was much to be done on Kippycash’s punch list: find new members, both to replace those who left, and to continue to complete their map coverage; find new vendors; review and revamp the DDG business model; rework the group’s infrastructure including bringing an internal CRM (customer relationship management) system online to facilitate group communication and sharing; redesign the group website; design and prepare new marketing materials; and more.
Kippycash attacked the list with verve and enthusiasm. His first discovery? Getting new members is a process that takes longer and is a little more complicated than he initially expected.
“Getting new members – that took a little longer than I thought,” Kippycash told us. “But in the long run it’s actually also been a little more beneficial in the sense that while we’ve been reviewing and making some changes to our business model and our direction and the group – new boards and committees and all that – at the same time there’s been other outside influences that have been making changes. So other industry manufacturers – change in their direction, change in their partnership – which has kind of opened up even more discussions. So right now its a good thing but it’s also a challenging, difficult thing to navigate.”
Kippycash said that he had originally thought that they would contact a few key players that they knew, and that would get the ball rolling. But more kept popping up as potential partners, adding to the amount of discussion and mutual investigation that needed to be completed.
Lots of possibilities…
For example, the DDG Director told us that in each of the regions of Texas, Rocky Mountains, Southern California, and Northern California – the group is in advanced discussion with no fewer than two or three potential candidates. And manufacturers that DDG is partnered with have jumped into the fray coming up with additional potential firms for them to meet with. This has lengthened and complicated the process – but at least the group is having no problem finding organizations interested in joining them.
Right now, DDG has nine members, well under the eighteen that Kippycash says that he believes is optimal. But he is confident that within a matter of just a few short weeks, they will have several new members to announce. They are in “final review” in six of these regions.
We asked Kippycash about the groups new direction or focus. He told us that it is not “rocket science” but rather the group is getting back to basics.
“Of course, we’re going to reach into verticals,” he told us. “We’re going to reach into more of the security [business], and enter into the electrical end of the world a little bit.”
New vendors and more to come…
Kippycash also said the group has been moving slowly with adding manufacturers. The reason for this is he wants to be sure of the brand’s positioning within the line assortment – and most importantly, that there are realistic and achievable goals for both sides. And especially as it correlates with new members – the group’s director is “trying to match up new members coming on board with new vendors coming on board.”
Still, impressively, Kippycash told us, “There are twelve manufacturers that we are in final review on.”
New brands with national programs…
Beyond the next twelve brands that might be potentially added to their assortment, the group is announcing here on strata-gee.com for the first time that they are launching national programs with the following vendors:
- Pinnacle Speakers
- Audion Solutions (owned by Ethereal)
- Blue Aura – a brand of wireless speakers owned by Kippycash’s other company, The Davinci Group
But wait, there’s more…
There are another three brands that Kippycash says they will be announcing very shortly, including an automation supplier and an amplifier supplier. Overall, however, he told us that DDG is taking its time with vendors. “We’re trying to do it right.”
Overall, the DDG Director is happy with the progress so far. Kippycash told us that the group’s CRM system is in place and up and running. They have also redesigned their email blast for group marketing promotions and should have a new website design shortly. All-in-all, a lot has been accomplished in the first 90-days. The next 90-days could get really interesting.
For more information on DDG, visit: www.digitaldeliverygroup.org.