How specialisation can harness a global fortune
Maverick AV Solutions has expanded from the UK across into Europe, now the InAVation Awards distributor of the year wants to become a global provider of AV. Paul Milligan speaks to two members of its management team.
“In 2005 we were a £30m business, we are now a $1bn business. I don’t think we are anywhere near halfway to where we should be. That shows the opportunity.” - Jon Sidwick, Maverick AV Solutions
The last year has probably been the most exciting in Maverick’s 26-year history. Building on the back of its recent European expansion, the AV distributor (its HQ in the UK) has expanded globally in the last 12 months with new offices in North America (USA and Canada) and APAC (Australia).
First established as an independent, Maverick grew to become one of the UK’s biggest distributors and was bought by giant US IT distributor Tech Data in 2007.
Since then it has steadily expanded in mainland Europe, where it now has 18 offices, with plans for more.
To manage this expansion it has recently promoted Joel Chimoindes to the position of VP for Europe. He will sit in a four-strong global management team, created to supply a consistency of message says Maverick senior vice president Jon Sidwick. “Our customers and vendors need us to do the same thing in all the different countries that we deal with them in.”
It was this theme of consistency that was returned to again and again during my joint interview with Chimoindes and Sidwick. So what are its plans for Europe and beyond? Turkey and Eastern Europe were highlighted as areas with potential, with Sidwick admitting, “When we are finished we will be in 20 countries.”
The potential for expansion is huge, with resellers and integrators keen for a consistent offering says Sidwick. “From a European perspective we are at 10% of where we could be in terms of the opportunity in the market, and our depth and breadth in each country.
The market growth by customer route or end user channel is phenomenal, in terms of the opportunity we have. By getting critical mass and market share in each country plus looking at the opportunities (by technology and by channel) our work here in Europe has only just started.”
Maverick’s business has changed says Chimoindes, driven by the market. “It never stands still, so as a business we are now covering the Cloud and IoT and we have the skillsets to capitalise on that. The opportunity is huge, and in every country, not just in one area.”
Involved at Maverick for more than 20 years, Sidwick has seen the company transform, and the only way is up, “In 2005 we were a £30m business, we are now a $1bn business. I don’t think we are anywhere near halfway to where we should be. That shows the opportunity.”
Other UK distributors have started to expand too in Europe, which has driven some M&A activity recently in that regard. So what is the Maverick approach to expansion?
“If we could buy a company that was a great fit, but with a business model that was built around where the market was going, not where it is now, that would be great, but I don’t think that exists,” says Sidwick.
“Our dna is specialisation, we have to be small and local and specialist. The worst thing we can do is act big and all-powerful, we are humble, we realise we have lots to do. Our vendors and resellers are telling us our model isn’t available elsewhere and that is because of the combination of adjacent IT services, plus the impact of companies like Microsoft, Lenovo, HP, Google, and other IT companies in the AV space, with our core AV side.”
In the past Sidwick has talked about Maverick adopting a ‘business outcome first’, but is the distribution world still too hung up on selling boxes? “We sell boxes day in and day out, we can do that as Tech Data, we don’t need Maverick to move a box from A to B. We talk about people, process, space, and technology to get the right outcome. The outcome conversation is moving outside of ‘how is your video conference going?’ to ‘what is the culture of your business and how is technology working to impact that culture?’”
Maverick was quick to see the potential of AV and IT coming together, and has developed a close partnership with Microsoft. Does it think the IT behemoth understands what AV is however?
“Microsoft is incredibly good at creating a platform and a specification to wrap around the AV interface on that platform, like WCD (Windows Collaboration Device). What they need is a channel that balances a mix of IT experience and AV specialisation,” says Sidwick.
“Our job is to take what was an IT-esque approach to market, add an AV layer, then enable the AV channel to sell it. We used to talk about a vendor at a time, distribution companies have been very guilty of being very vendor-centric with resellers, now we talk about a whole solutions sector and business outcomes, which are delivered through a solution set of different vendors.”
Establishing a global AV business is a huge undertaking, and there isn’t really a model for distributors like Maverick to follow, but Sidwick believes it’s in a great position to do it.
“A globally consistent experience from Maverick is really important for the channel. Distribution is the only middleware that can do it. You have resellers at one end that supply the technology and end users at the other end that need to deploy it. You have resellers that are strong regionally but we don’t have any strong global resellers you can look to, so the only real consistent base that can take this to market is distribution, and you need one that has the DNA of a specialist but also has the breadth and power and adjacency of technology set of a multi-technology distributor like Tech Data.”