NAB 2019 Reflections: Adorama’s John Kaloukian and Chris Dunne Emphasize a Client-Centric Approach

The company’s revamped strategy focuses on vertical, including sports

For more than 35 years, Adorama Business Solutions has been serving the sports community with a wide array of products, services, consultation, and much more. As a corporation that specializes in multiple facets, the company is in an advantageous situation to have a long-lasting impact on the industry. At NAB 2019, John Kaloukian, SVP, sales, Adorama, and Chris Dunne, senior marketing manager, Adorama, offered SVG a look into the redesign of the company’s business priorities, recent partnerships that are educating the next wave of live-event-production professionals, and how it is differentiating itself from a typical consumer-electronics provider.

How has your business model transformed to better align with the goals that Adorama wants to accomplish in the sports market?
JK: We are in year two of our three-year strategy that we put together. Adorama had a division for many years without an identity and purpose that did well at serving customers transactionally. [To solve this,] I brought my experience from working with Sony and the ability to focus on verticals. We started to develop our verticals, and one of them was sports. That allows us to focus on traditional markets that we serve pretty well while also diversifying ourselves.

One of the key aspects of our value proposition is consultative sales by managing one-on-one relationships. So, after putting a strategy together, we started hiring focused sales people that would develop relationships with clients. In the past, Adorama did specials every day with these email lists being created by a really good marketing group. [The lists] were being blasted to everyone and anyone who did business with the company. [After some time], we decided that we didn’t want someone in sports to hear about something that had no relevance to him.

[Adorama owner/CEO Mendel Mendlowits] suppressed the B2B managed relationships that we have from that master machine. Chris was instrumental in developing relevant messaging. Now I have dedicated account managers involved in sports that are reaching out to clients, so, when the appropriate and relevant product comes along, we make sure it’ll be a one-to-one message going out to them.

Are there any recent relationships that Adorama has recently benefited from?
JK: Madison Technical College is an educational customer that came to us with a need. They wanted to build a studio and didn’t know where to begin. As part of the buildout of our organization, I hired someone that focuses on technical services and comes from the industry. He was able to understand what the customer was trying to accomplish and design a solution for them. We also installed it for them. We became a turnkey solution for [the school].

CD: They knew roughly what they wanted to accomplish, but they didn’t know how to get there within their budget and their product ideas. We’re able to go to the manufacturers and test out kits for customers, [which] saves time when [the product] gets onsite. When it arrives onsite, we’re there to make sure everything that was designed — the lighting, the cameras — is as it should be. We also did some customized training courses for some of the instructors that weren’t technical. We offer [classes] for every client. They can be large or small clients, and we can train them on a specific camera or an entire system. We were able to teach [the instructors] in order to teach the students

How is Adorama leveraging NAB 2019 to cultivate business relationships?
: With the sales and marketing approach at the booth, we’re highlighting content more than products because we have well-known [clients] in the industry that are talking about subjects that they’re experts in. That’s added value for customers because they’re coming here to learn. What they’re going to go on and purchase is immaterial to us.

JK: [We’re] taking that value proposition and what we’re doing with our clients and translating it to [our booth on] the show floor. The intention of our booth is to make it more welcoming and a place where people can come visit to discuss or consult their needs with us in order to provide solutions. From a value-added reseller, we carry over 2,200 brands. We don’t want to be a transactional company. We used to be based solely on a price-first [approach], but, instead of focusing on the product, we’re concentrated on the client. That’s the biggest takeaway.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.