A new name in residential AV technology distribution came to the market earlier this year: Amber International was founded by Stuart Tickle (right of picture) and Willem Bok (left), managing directors of AWE and BMB Electronics respectively. IE Residential spoke to both of them
Who and what is Amber International?
Stuart Tickle: Amber International is a sales, marketing and technical support distribution business for the CI industry serving territories within Europe, the Middle East and Africa. The company was founded by myself and Willem and launched at this year’s ISE event. We both identified a gap for a leading force in international distribution of high-quality CI products and believe that we can use the strengths of our two respective businesses to create a fresh, successful and exciting distribution business offering great brands for the benefit of customers across the region.
What is the background to the creation of the company? ST: Willem and I got to know each other when AWE took on the UK distribution of URC. Through this partnership, we soon realised that we shared a common heritage and many business values. For example, we are both family businesses with a great reputation in our respective markets. We saw that by working more closely together we could strengthen what was, at that time, BMB's international master distribution business.
Why is there a market need for Amber? Willem Bok: The brands we represent (URC, TruAudio, Planet Waves and Kinetik Labs) all have strong home markets. It is Amber's job to develop business in EMEA (and parts of Asia too), by providing an effective stock, sales and support point for the entire region, and strong connections with sub-distributors in individual countries. This takes away the cost and hassle that would otherwise be incurred by a manufacturer trying to break into specific country markets where they would have language, time zone, shipping, currency, accounting and travel expenses to handle the business directly.
There is also a further benefit in that Amber handles multiple, non-directly competing brands, so it’s a great platform for the manufacturers and allows us to provide a coherent and complementary message to dealers across EMEA.
What are your business objectives? WB: Our objective is to significantly raise the profile, support and sales of the partner brands we represent via improved support to our territorial distribution base. Since ISE, the reaction to the Amber message has been incredibly positive and we look forward to building on our initial impact on the months ahead.
How do the distribution businesses behind Amber complement each other? What strengths does a combined offering bring? ST: BMB represents an existing international distribution portfolio of brands and distributors, serviced by a hard-working team based at a purpose-built warehouse facility in the Netherlands. Meanwhile, AWE is renowned for its technical sales support, training and proven marketing abilities that complement these existing BMB strengths. Amber enables a core team to focus on the international business development of the brands we work with, whilst allowing AWE and BMB to focus on their respective independent territorial distributor responsibilities. The win-win is that both companies provide a strong resource and support to Amber, so effectively, Amber has a team of 35 people at its disposal!
Which brands does Amber represent? ST: Amber represents URC, TruAudio, PlanetWaves and Kinetik Labs. One of the choices we have had to make at the launch was where to draw the line. It is very tempting to take up other opportunities we have to work with additional brands. But, our initial priority is to make a tangible difference to these partners. Why have you appointed territorial-distribution partners, and what are you looking for from them? WB: The brands we represent are treated individually, so it is not a case of 'one size fits all'. The common link between the brands, however, is for us to work with committed partners who are well respected and can provide a high level of service to dealers in their respective countries. We want to build the Amber brands, so also need sub-distributors on board who are willing and able to work with us to make this happen. For URC in particular, a high level of technical support and training capabilities are essential. Who are the existing Amber territorial-distribution partners? WB: Amber has over 25 active territorial distributors and is working hard to build on these relationships and fill any gaps that might exist. This is a brand-by-brand, territory-by-territory exercise!
We have already signed up the following distributors:
- Avero in Ukraine (URC)
- QVinta in Russia (TruAudio)
- TR Electronic Services in Israel (URC)
- Excel in Italy (URC)
- Definitive Audio in Italy (Planet Waves)
- AWE in UK (URC and Kinetik Labs)
- BMB in Netherlands (Kinetik Labs)
Of course, we also welcome enquiries from areas where we are not represented so any interested parties can email firstname.lastname@example.org How has the market responded to the move?
ST: We have had a fantastic response from the market. After the initial surprise factor at ISE, everyone I speak to can see the benefits of the new company and they're looking forward to seeing what we achieve with the business. It will be a steady transformation and we can already see the positive steps that we are taking begin to pay dividends.