Honeywell sets up product-agnostic shop in SA

April 2006 News & Events

In 2005, Honeywell launched the South African presence of ADI International, a brand-agnostic security and low voltage product distribution business. Already a successful distributor in North America, with over 100 branches and a product portfolio consisting of over 400 brands, ADI plans to change the face of security distribution in South Africa with its multiproduct distribution strategy.

The European offices of ADI are also busy establishing the brand in that region with 32 branches in 13 countries.

Local ADI MD, Philip Cowles, one of the founders of Incredible Connection, heads the business from the Johannesburg office. He says the ADI approach is different to traditional distribution models in the security industry in that "ADI International does not focus on one product, but has agreements with multiple manufacturers around the world," Cowles explains. "And instead of simply providing our channel with the products they ask for, we provide an environment in which products are displayed in a retail-like fashion, in which installers can move about and view different products. ADI South Africa has already inked distribution agreements with over 50 manufacturers.

"Not only is this an environment in which installers can see the products before buying, they are also able to see what else is on the market and what other brands and latest products are available. This will assist in ensuring they purchase the appropriate up-to-date solutions for their customers."

The new strategy is already in operation in Cape Town, with tremendous success: Cowles says the branch has already doubled revenue expectations. Part of the reason for this is that the company has expanded its customer base. In the US, for example, the majority of ADI's customers are in the intrusion market, while the majority of the South African company's customers are in the surveillance/CCTV market.

The new sales format still caters for ADI South Africa's existing customer base, but also makes it easier for installers in the intrusion market to get the product they want. And this is the main growth ADI is experiencing in Cape Town and expects to see as it rolls out the new strategy across the rest of its South African branches this year.

While some may question the company's commitment to products from competing manufacturers, Cowles is quick to point out that ADI would not be awarded as many distribution contracts as it has been if it was trying to favour one product over another. "Our policy is to provide the best product for the job, no matter who makes it," he states.

And ADI will not be ignoring the service aspect of its business. Cowles says the distributor will still offer support to its clients, but its primary goal is to make its customers self-sufficient. To this end, it focuses on training and certifying its channel's technical experts to ensure they are able to offer the best services and expertise to their customers.

Will the new distribution model redefine the future of the security industry? Cowles believes it is merely part of the changing market. As traditional security services and information technology (IT) converge, products will become commoditised and easier to use. This will naturally result in consolidation at all levels of the industry, allowing companies with foresight to take the lead in converged security solutions.

Some may disagree with the new focus of ADI, selling multiple brands in a quasi-retail setting, but the results of the US and the recently launched Cape operations show there is scope for this type of model. More than that, if the results in Cape Town are analysed, this model not only retains existing customers, but also serves to draw new clients with its different, independent approach to product selection.

For more information contact Philip Cowles, ADI, 011 574 2500,

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