Midwich, a major trade-only technology distributor, held its annual Technology Exposed event on October 11-12 at Mercedes Benz World, Weybridge Surrey. The event attracted over 1,000 dealers to check out the latest solutions from its expanding offering.
Commercial Integrator Europe (CIE) took the time to delve a little deeper into the company plans and achievements, sitting down with some of Midwich’s top execs.
First up, Jon Dew-Stanley, technical director, explained, “My department’s job is to deliver technical support from our three locations around the UK, to make sure our dealers have everything they need to create successful projects. Whether its video conferencing, cabling, IP-TV systems, signal distribution or control systems, we are here to provide the support that delivers confidence to our dealers.”
The Midwich technical team runs training courses on a number of technologies and the entire team is undergoing CTS accreditations from InfoComm.
Helping dealers keep pace with market trends is also a big part of what Jon’s 30 strong team does and he identifies AV over IP as a particular opportunity that the company has been helping installers deal with. Of course, the concept is not totally new, it’s been common in professional audio systems for years, but as the concept has spread beyond proprietary systems and the number of sectors it applies to increases, Jon says Midwich has recognised the opportunity and delivered the support dealers have needed.
Jon enthuses, “For areas like education and corporate, the benefits of being able to move away from centralised points of information and push info and interaction out to the edge of the network, say iPads/screens in a classroom or office environment, creates increased interactivity and idea sharing opportunities. Integrators can add real value to their clients’ experiences when dealing with technology. It has been talked about for a long time, but it’s a reality now, the IT infrastructure is taking over the content delivery rather than older more established AV methods, its challenges like this that our technical support can help installers embrace.”
Another area Jon identified as an opportunity was using IP tech to create high quality AV and interactive experiences in hotels. We have all experienced how bad some in room TV systems can be, so the ability to deliver something that far exceeds the hotel’s and the guest’s expectations, delivers a strong opportunity.
“Delivering 4K HDR content into hotels room is now possible,” underlines Jon, “When delivering a luxury experience, the AV and in-room interaction can now be a huge part of that.”
If hotels guests now expect a better standard with AV and control, Jon argues that this is even more important in the world of work, particularly with younger workers who are coming into the work place and expecting to be able to ‘work smart’. Again, Jon feels creating seamless conferencing or collaborative systems in the corporate world, offers big opportunities and whether it’s just help over the phone, in person or in formal training sessions, Midwich is committed to deliver what its customers need.”
Jon had some final advice for getting projects right, “Its really important to remember that, whilst its key to get the technical end of things right, it’s what a system does that is important, not what it is. This is where you add real value to your service, by delivering a genuine change to how clients interact with and use the technology.”
Next up Richard Bovington, head of interactive sales, who heads up the company’s offering in areas such as corporate/enterprise and education.
Perhaps the newest and most dynamic sector is in corporate where companies are waking up to the value of interactive large and smaller format screens to promote increased team work and remote location interaction.
Richard says, “When the Microsoft Surface Hub launched, this really opened up this market and we now have lots of solutions which all offer something different. NEC with its Infinity line is a strong offering. All the interactivity is built in, keeping the costs down, but performance high.”
However, Richard argues that in the corporate sector brand is less important than performance, as users want genuinely collaborative performance, not names or gimmicks. Richard also points out that opportunities are increased here as there is pull from the market as well as push from the trade end, companies are beginning to be aware and look for the solutions that they need.
“The reason for this,” says Richard, “Is productivity, companies can close gaps in their efficiency and gain an advantage. We know from our own experience of using the technology, that we have cut down on un-necessary visits and increased our levels of cooperation within Midwich. It’s a good time to be in this market as companies are waking up to the advantages, understand what they need and are looking for suppliers who can deliver it.”
Lastly Mark Lowe, chief operating officer was keen to underline to CIE how important customer interaction and support is for Midwich.
Mark says, “Customer relationships of course have always been hugely important to us, but just recently we have been increasing our commitment, spending a record £250K on training our staff to be as effective as they can be when dealing with customers.”
A key area the company has been working on up-skilling its sales staff so that if there are questions about a particular product or technology, it can be dealt with quickly and with the fewest number of referrals needed. The company wants to be able to answer more questions first time, there and then.
Getting on the road is also important, Mark says, “We are on track to deliver 2,000 customer visits this year, face to face time is still very big for us. Trade events are important too, like our own Technology Exposed, but other events too. Ultimately, are working hard to identify those customers who need the most help and delivering it to them.”
Mark also underlines Midwich’s aim of brining brands and companies into the group that offer that extra level of expertise and comfort for the customers.
The purchase of PSCo in 2015 is underlined as an example of a company that is a genuine specialist in its field. Offering LED screen rental and support, with its own showroom to assess which product is right for each project, Mark says that PSCo has not just added another product category to the Midwich family, but more knowhow and knowledge too.
Other company advancements which were highlighted around the time of the show included increased revenue for the company by 33.6% to £211.6 million for six months ended 30 June 2017, acquisition of Gebroeders van Domburg B.V expanding global presence, to 650+ staff.