By Clive Young
New York (January 28, 2008)–Digital live mixing console manufacturer, DiGiCo, has reached an agreement with Group One Ltd. for U.S. distribution. Arranged at mid-month, the agreement is retroactive to January 1. Group One is also the exclusive U.S. distributor for Blue Sky International, Celestion Professional Products, MC2 Audio Ltd., and XTA Electronics Ltd.
According to Group One president Jack Kelly, the DiGiCo deal had been in negotiation since last September: “This is an important brand with important customers and there was a lot of detail to getting [the deal] right, but now it’s set and it’s very exciting. Both technically and from the point of view of customer service, I think DiGiCo has one of the best reputations in the U.S pro audio market that I’m aware of. They also have an absolutely fabulous new console technology in the SD7, which we’re spreading the word about.”
While this marks the first time the two companies have worked together, the same can’t be said for the principals involved. DiGiCo marketing director David Webster and Kelly worked together–on different sides of the Atlantic–at Klark-Teknik, first meeting in 1980. “Dave was in the Test and Engineering Department and I was running U.S. Marketing and Sales,” recalled Kelly, “but we knew each other, and (DiGiCo CEO) Bob Doyle came into Klark-Teknik around 1990 or so, and we worked together for maybe as much as a year; I’ve known them throughout the years.”
While the past is all well and good, Kelly and DiGiCo already have their eyes planted firmly on the future, he said. “Dave Webster and I have already begun putting together a very well thought-out marketing plan which includes advertising and using the right trade shows, conventions and open houses to promote the message. This is a product that you have to touch and see how it fits into the way you work, so we have people and product on the road; by the end of February, we’ll have seen probably 300 independent engineers, house engineers and people that work for the various rental companies. I think the market is more crowded with digital consoles, but it’s not more crowded per se. All that’s changing is the amount of people buying digital vs. buying analog…and DiGiCo occupies one of the premiere positions in digital consoles.”
While Group One’s taking on distribution is a change, some aspects of DiGiCo’s U.S. effort will remain the same–largely its staff. Allan Nichols (Sales Manager), Taidus Vallandi (Technical Sales), and Amy Vallandi (Sales and Service Support) have all joined the Group One team. Kelly explained, “These are committed, talented, enthusiastic people who have a passion for the business they’re in and the brand that they’re part of–and we hired every one of them.”
Kelly concluded, “It’s going to be a fabulous relationship and it’s going to be very long term as well–which is very typical of what Group One does and how long most of the people we do business with have been here. I think the shortest relationship we have might be 10 years with Celestion, because we tend to really become partners in terms of building a brand in the U.S., and we take the same approach to customer support and service that the brand does. We get involved in the marketing and product plans, and so we become embedded in their business. I think that it works well for both–Group One as a distributor and any of our manufacturers.”
Group One Ltd.