Ralph Jensen

Tri-Ed/Northern Video Distribution On The Move

In case you haven’t noticed, though it would be hard to miss, Tri-Ed/ Northern Video Distribution is on the move. This growth spurt started in March 2010 when the two companies merged, forming the largest independent low-voltage security distributor.

The company has plans for more growth—whether organic or via acquisition— and what is now a distributor approaching $500 million in revenue will strive to become a $1 billion business. Tri-Ed/Northern Video Distribution is one of the leading distributors of low-voltage electronic security products, including video, intrusion, access/fire and many other ancillary products.

“We plan to increase our footprint by employing a buy-and-build strategy over the next three to five years,” said Pat Comunale, president and CEO of Tri-Ed/Northern Video Distribution. “We have aggressively expanded our market share and footprint since we acquired the business from Tyco International in 2005. One of our goals is to help our analog-centric dealer clientele transition to IP-based products. This is one of our chief growth strategies.”

The latest move for the company was the acquisition of Video Security Specialists in Southern California, where they have three strong branches. This is all part of the acquisition strategy. Organically, the company has enlarged its footprint by opening several new distribution centers in key locations, including Atlanta, Westchester and Plainview, N.Y. Detroit is soon to follow. And, the growth isn’t stopping there.

Tri-Ed/Northern Video has a strong presence west of the Mississippi River and on the East Coast. The goal is to leverage what the company currently has in the distribution model to expand throughout the upper Midwest, including places such as Cincinnati and other key cities such as St. Louis.

“We want our model to be capable of servicing all of our customers in the U.S. market on a ‘next day’ basis,” Comunale said.

There is more to Tri-Ed/Northern Video Distribution. With the help of the company’s product marketing group, training is taking center stage for employees and customers. Tri-Ed/Northern Video also sends handfuls of employees to the various manufacturers for more hands-on training, and, with the help of product road shows, has trained as many as 3,000 dealers in the network.

“Technology plays an important role not only in the way we do business, but how we present new products,” Comunale said. “We also have our IPez program where we pre-program IP CCTV systems for our dealers who, in turn, receive the product ready for use. This is a tremendous value-added service for our dealer network.”

The technology road shows are large, one-day events that include company training classes, a variety of manufacturers’ training seminars and a tabletop expo that runs throughout the day. This gives participants the flexibility of attending training sessions or networking with manufacturers. Topics may include video resolution, Ethernet transmission, surge suppression and more.

If growth seems to come easy for Tri-Ed/Northern Video, part of it is due to its strategy, and part of the strategy comes from Audax Group, which completed the acquisition of Tri-Northern Holdings Inc. in April.

“This transaction positions us to build on our past successes,” Comunale said. “Audax Group’s proven track record building middle-market distributors into national leaders will be a great asset as we embark on our next stage of growth within this fragmented industry.”

Audax Co-CEO Geoffrey S. Rehnert said that having Tri-Northern as a leading distributor of electronic security products offers a best-in-class distribution model, as well as a management team committed to leading the industry in add-on acquisitions, greenfield expansion and building out the organization.

This article originally appeared in the June 2012 issue of Security Today.

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