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Atlona hires Guggenheim to lead Euro expansion

Seasoned technology executive Ronni Guggenheim has been appointed to the role of general manager by AV signal management systems manufacturer Atlona. Based in a new office in Switzerland, he will lead the company’s international expansion, overseeing all international sales, support and marketing for all territories outside North America. The move comes as the company has enjoyed its most successful year of trading since its foundation 12 years ago.

Ronni Guggenheim (left of picture), who has held top-level positions at Navori, Barix, ComQi and Minicom, has joined Atlona to run the company’s new European office. Located in Dübendorf, near Zurich, Switzerland, the office will open officially with a ribbon-cutting ceremony on 15 December. Guggenheim assumes the role of general manager, heading up the AV signal management systems vendor’s operations outside North America.

Atlona CEO and co-founder Ilya Khayn (pictured with Guggenheim) explained: “We picked Switzerland because it’s a very convenient location in the middle of all the key markets, and it’s a very business-friendly country. It’s very easy for us to support our channel from Switzerland, and we have key partners in close proximity.”

Guggenheim added that Switzerland is a popular choice for American companies setting up in Europe: “Google, Amazon, HP and others have their European headquarters in Switzerland, and not just for tax reasons.”

He continued: “We’ve hired eight new people since I joined. Not all of them are sitting in the office – some of them are out in the market in Latin America through to Asia Pacific. The office has a showroom and a training facility – and we can expand the operation quite significantly at that location.”

Khayn explained that the company “has had phenomenal success throughout the past four to five years as we started putting more focus on the commercial market”. In North America, its commercial business has been growing “exponentially” during this time, particularly following the introduction of a focused product line for conference rooms and classrooms. Over the past three years, one-third of the company’s business has come from outside North America – and has been generated by just two people. “So that’s quite exciting – when you look at the amount of business and the amount of resources allocated to it, it’s a great opportunity.

“In order for us to support our channel we realised that this was a good time to make an investment – especially with the fact that 2015 was the best year for our company” – with over 25 product launches.

Guggenheim commented: “One of the major assets of Atlona is its channel. The market appreciates that we don’t make any direct business, we are 100% channel-oriented. The whole ramp-up of the office has been geared to ensure we can better support our channel partners – distributors, systems integrators, consultants and resellers – in conducting business with Atlona. The whole idea is to make their lives easier, and drive business towards them.”

So will Guggenheim be looking to add more channel partners, or simply to drive greater volumes through the existing partners? “It depends on the country – we have very loyal and good partners in the majority of the main countries. Our philosophy is, we would rather focus on a small amount of partners and grow the business in a loyal partnership with them, than start to build cannibalism in the market.”

He added: “There’s a very good fit between Atlona and myself – I’m a channel believer, and I know what it takes to make the channel believe in you as a vendor and as a company. I find a very good match here between Atlona as a vendor and the channel.”

ISE 2016, where Atlona is a Gold Sponsor, will be “the biggest show for our company,” said Khayn, who is promising a lot of new product launches and private preview sessions for partners. “We will be bringing our entire team out to Amsterdam to show how much we’ve invested to support our channel in Europe.”

One of the main focuses of the company’s ISE offering will be the Atlona Management System, which “opens up the door for Atlona to play in much bigger deployments”, according to Khayn. “With this system we can service, support, configure and maintain our products remotely. Down the road our integrators will be able to utilise it to generate recurring revenue. We showed the system at InfoComm and CEDIA, and our customers have been blown away at what it is capable of.”