How did you start working in the audio business?I graduated in 1994 and started work in the audio business – so it’s been eighteen years. I worked in a rental company, then afterwards as a sales manager in a distribution company, – I worked with Sennheiser equipment, Cordial Cable, DAS Audio – but all the time I liked the sound from Dynacord equipment. In 2001, I started up my own company, Sound House Pro, and from 2005, we started work with EVI Audio. We had many conversations about Dynacord products, and at that time the situation with Electro-Voice in Ukraine wasn’t good: they had been with another distributor for ten years. It can be a problem when a big brand changes distributor, but they did it: we received a proposal from them and started working. What was it made you think, in 2001, that it was the right time to start your company?It’s a good question – there are many answers. At the time, the company I was working for had only one good brand, and there looked to be no possibility that the range could be expanded. Also, it’s hard for me to sit in a chair and do the same thing every day – the routine was killing me. It wasn’t a question of money, because at that time, business was very depressed everywhere. When I set up the company, I had a young family, so it was a difficult decision. But I saw the chance to work with Electro-Voice – and it turned out to be good for them as well as for us. Aside from the stadiums that we’ve seen on this trip, do you have a favourite project that you have been involved in?There is one good project – a church in Kiev, which is one of the biggest evangelical churches in Ukraine. First of all it was a very interesting project because we competed in the tender with four companies with good, major brands. Most interesting was that all of these brands were offering line arrays. But SoundHouse Pro offered an alternative: a line array combined with four delay lines, because of the acoustic properties of the hall. It was like a big concert hall with a big balcony and big under-balcony space, and from our acoustic calculations we had decided that without the delay lines it would be impossible to get good sound coverage for every seat. But the customer was worried because our system was the most expensive, and everyone else was saying that line arrays on their own would be OK. Furthermore, we also offered a single-screen control solution. So they insisted on a demonstration, and the demo made the sale. It confirmed all our calculations, and turned the tender process in favour of SoundHouse Pro. So the customer was absolutely satisfied with the solution, and we have a contract for another installation from them.It’s very interesting for us that we participated in the tender and came up with an idea that wasn’t presented by any of the other companies, and convinced the customer that the idea is the very best they can have. It can be quite a challenge – unfortunately this doesn’t happen every time. Have you done everything you want to do with the company?The major business is still distribution rather than installation. We have enough experience and we have service experience to our partners in other cities. Distribution is really important to us, so we will develop in this direction. Projects are also important, but we want to focus on consulting – looking at project locations and advising on how to make good solutions. By teaching dealers about this, they can offer a better, more expensive solutions for each project, and will be able to convince the customer that their solution is right. There are so many competitor brands from Asia – to be able to sell high-end products we should teach the dealers first and then the customers; give them the idea of very good sound so that they want to have it in their projects. We sell very good brands for sound, cabling and trussing, but we don’t have a major lighting brand that would be a good reference. In Ukraine, most of the famous brands are taken by other companies that may not develop them the way they should be developed. If anyone reading this wants to contact us, they are welcome! Suppliers are used to working with partners in particular countries and often don’t want to change, because they don’t know other companies in the country.Unfortunately the current situation in the Ukraine is that many companies take two or three major brands, and they develop one brand and leave the others undeveloped – they kill it in our country. It’s the same situation with many lighting brands in the Ukraine: there’s one brand that is handled by a rental company, it’s unbelievable – the company doesn’t work in the distribution market, it doesn’t have a sales department or a dealer network for these products! Apart from lighting, are you looking to grow your distribution portfolio in other areas?We are moving step by step – beyond lighting, we’re not looking to extend our brands. All the brands we carry are good quality and a good price – it’s enough for now. Some time ago we also worked in the MI market, but I understand that our business is pro lighting and sound. I don’t have time to do more than that.It’s important to give good support to our dealers – in Ukraine we have nearly 60 dealers. It’s a big chain, and it’s not possible for us to have face-to-face conversations every day with companies in Lviv, for example, because we are in Dnipropetrovsk – 1000 km away! Andrey Garkaviy was talking to Paddy Baker. There will be a report on the stadium installations in the May issue of Installation Europe.
Andrey Garkaviy, Sound House Pro
We talk to the founder and general manager of the Ukranian distributor and integrator responsible for the new audio systems in two of the country’s Euro2012 football stadiums