CE Pro spent some time with Gordon Dutch of Peerless AV to chart the continued progress of this expanding and innovative brand.
Now non-executive director at the company, Gordon takes a bit more of back seat these days as his brother Keith takes on the day to day running of the company, however he is no less enthusiastic about the prospects for Peerless-AV with an infectious positivity that has been one of the reasons for the company’s success.
With Keith now firmly installed as MD having gained experience in many of the company’s different spheres of activity over the past 12 years, the company is looking to its next phase of development.
Gordon also points to other members of the team who have helped deliver the company evolve to where it is today. Beky Cann as director of PR and communications EMEA has overseen an increased and more effective operation in this area, Melinda Von Horvath, ex of Milestone AV Technologies has joined as vice president of sales EMEA with over 17 years of experience in the pro AV market. Other key members of the team include Paul Dawes as director of marketing UK. The team must be doing something right as Gordon is delighted to explain that for 2017 the company is already way up on last year.
For those who don’t know the company’s history, a bit of back-ground is useful. Originally called BBG Distribution Limited, the company formed in 1993 and became one of the most successful independent AV distributors in Europe operating across several sectors including automotive and domestic AV. Gordon was always ambitious to keep the company moving forward and in 2009, BBG merged with Peerless Industries Inc, a US manufacturer of AV solutions giving the UK arm the muscle to further consolidate and strengthen its position.
Gordon explains that it was at this time that the company began to move away from distributing other brands into the consumer AV market and began to mould the company into a more commercial focused entity with a more consolidated roster of products. These days the company has about 90% of its business in the commercial AV market, with the rest still in the consumer market.
Peerless-AV offers a wide range of solutions including TV/screen/speaker and AV support and storage products as well as wireless communication devices, information kiosks and cables.
Gordon explains: “As Peerless-AV EMEA we first concentrated building the business in the UK and then moved onto Germany as this is the second largest market in Europe for what we do. France was next on our list and we are very active there now, but the French market is more protective of its own language and culture, so you have to try harder to fit in, but we are making good progress there now with three full time staff. You have to make the right effort to communicate properly, as well as having native speakers, it’s important to have websites and printed material that are properly translated where you can. We communicate with our French and German buyers in this way an our new catalogue is available in French, German and of course English.”
Other major expansions planned for the future include the Nordics and Middle East, where Peerless-AV already has a third-party warehouse.
Gordon explains that before the company develops anything important principles have to be in play. “Safety is our number one priority and we are proud to say that we have never had a safety recall in our history. The next pillar of our approach is quality. When installers get hold of and use our products, the build quality is there for all to see. Lastly, we need to deliver speed and ease of install, this is crucial in making a genuinely install friendly product.”
With a company like Peerless-AV, being able to spot the next big thing or react to unexpected market trends is key, so what does Gordon see as important development areas?
“Well it’s not 3D that’s for sure, part of the trick of course is being able to spot when something is not going to take of. But on the domestic side audio is still and will be a good area. A product like Sonos is more than good enough for most consumers and so I personally have a lot of time for that brand and how they have built it. Domestic screen wise, I can’t see curved TV being around forever, they just don’t look right when mounted, so won’t be a strong area for us. What will be much more interesting is solutions for super slim OLED ‘wall-paper’ type TVs.
“Not only do they need to be mounted well, you need solutions to store the separate electronics that they still need to drive them, so opportunities there. We are already looking at some patents for the super slim TV sector for the mass market, but we already have some clever products for these types of screen like our wire mounting system that we showed at ISE.”
Gordon is also very excited about a completely new product sector for the company which is already available in the US and is being considered for a UK/Europe launch.
In the US Peerless is finding massive success with a range of IP68 rated exterior TVs. Gordon says: “Our products are currently way ahead on a technical level, with full IP68 rating and an optical bonding technique which extends life by keeping moisture at bay and massively improves contrast, thus giving the effect of a much higher nit rated screen when in direct sunlight, without the running costs. Extremes of temperature are no problem so installers can target a wide range of applications from a ski resort to a beach bar, these screens can cope with it all.”
In the US Peerless has also expanded more into the outdoor ‘Resi’ markets and so this is an area that Peerless-AV EMEA will also be considering, although of course the product will need ‘some’ adjustment for the European market.
Cables is another area where Gordon argues the company is a step ahead with its HDMI 2.0 compatible Sigma range ready for the spread of 4K and with the company already planning for the HDMI 2.1 future and beyond.
Gordon explains that the company has a dedicated ET (Emerging Technology) division always looking at how to develop products for emerging markets. Areas such as the IoT and voice control will change the way products interact, but with they change the hardware vastly throwing up the need for new support solutions? Gordon says the company has its eye on these areas and will exploit opportunities if they come.
One area that the company has already delivered much innovation into is the video wall support market with installer friendly applications such as quick release for ease of access, even in the middle of a large multi screen video wall. Key for the future will be developing further solutions that exploit the next generation of narrow pitch LED screens which Gordon says will come down in price and drive the next phase of development.
Peerless-AV is already heavily involved in this important new area with a full range of narrow pitch LED mounting solutions.
The company is also finding success with its products in the information kiosk market, many of which are now made in the UK, a fact that clearly delights Gordon: “Its great to be a genuine UK manufacturer, something the UK needs more of and it’s also great for our customers to as lead times are cut by as much as 70%. The plan is to add more to our UK manufacturing abilities as we go forward.”
Suitable for exterior and interior use, the kiosks come in standard or curved versions and bespoke versions are available to order.
Bespoke manufacture is a speciality right across the company, particularly with large scale orders on support products. Global companies wanting continuity across sites can come to Peerless-AV. Gordon says: “With big bespoke orders we can usually get drawings and costs turned around in 3-4 days, we aim to let partners know as soon as possible what is feasible and what times scales are going to be involved.”
Peerless-AV has also been developing its digital presence to, many of the company’s customers still love an ‘old school’ printed catalogue, but newer support services such as on-line configurators and product matching have also been introduced. Shows also continue to be a big part of the company’s promotional push, with Gordon citing the advantages of getting installers face to face with the products as much as possible to see first-hand the quality delivered.
So, lots more to come from the company this year and into the future. Peerless-AV is a company that knows well its core strengths and is effective at bringing those to bear to the advantage of its install partners, the new catalogue is available on request.