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Introduction to Andrew Online

Welcome to Andrew Online! In this column, I will share with you my thoughts on subjects and issues that are and have been important for me and Extron in conducting business with you, our customers, since we began in 1983 and since I began in business in 1965. In the past, I have made it a policy that Extron does not publicly comment on rumors, gossip, published comments by other manufacturers or individuals in our industry and the politics of the AV Industry. In this column, directed only to you, our customers, will I now address a few of these subjects. Of course, you can be guaranteed that I am biased when it comes to Extron, and I know you will take that into account.

Why am I writing this column? After all, why start now? You, our customers, have made Extron very successful. After all these years, why take a chance and say something that might be controversial and affect your purchases from Extron? One reason is because I think I have something to say that you might find of interest based on my over 38 years in this industry. Over the years, I have grown and learned a few things from my experiences that may be of interest to you. If nothing else you will find interesting the history of the industry I will document and bring to this column. I have been so lucky to have the opportunity to work with you over the years and see this industry, you, and Extron grow.

Rotten At The Top

I have a saying that goes like this: "ROTTEN AT THE TOP, ROTTEN ALL THE WAY THROUGH THE ORGANIZATION." In other words, my weakness in sales, marketing, product development, engineering, manufacturing, finance, and most importantly human resources has, and will be at any given time, the weakness of Extron and all of these departments. Until I learned and understood the workings of each of these parts of our organization, these departments and the weakness of their leaders would stay in place and Extron and you, our customer, would suffer. It meant that Extron would not deliver as well as a World Class Company could deliver. I have always wanted Extron to be the best in all categories and to be the best for you. Thanks to your support and the growth of our industry, I was given the chance to learn and grow in each of these areas and make changes within Extron.

A Better Extron

I'll never forget, in the early 90's, receiving a phone call from Chip Del Coro of Modern Mass Media in New Jersey, one of Extron's first dealers. His words were something like this, "Andrew, you know we love you buddy, but I think you've got some problems. I personally just pulled a second RGB 102 out of the box and both were Dead On Arrival." I have to tell you, I still do not understand or accept that we can ship a product that arrives to you DOA out of the box. I felt that I had personally let Chip down. This began my first real look at the manufacturing process, at that time just one of my weaknesses in a growing company. I see a lot of us doing well as a small mom and pop company, but falling behind as the company grows.

Due to the tremendous growth in our industry for you and Extron, there has not been a year that has gone by that there have not been major changes within Extron. The slow down in the last year has in many ways been a blessing in disguise. I expected it much sooner. In 1998 I believed it was just a matter of time before business had to level out. I hope all of you took some of the profit you made and put it away for just such times as these. This lull gives us time to focus, catch up and set the stage for what I believe will be continued growth in the next year or two. Some of you might be just breaking even or making a slight profit now. It has been my experience that business runs in boom and bust cycles. If your company was not doing well prior to the slow down, you might want to take a look at the business plan and my "Rotten at the Top" outlook and make some serious decisions about getting some outside help. From here, I believe it only gets more competitive. Our industry has matured and many of the products have become commodities. At the same time the industry matured, the economy hit a major slow down or as they say the bubble popped.

A Look At The Past

In future columns, I will document some of my history in the industry. This might be of interest to those of you that are new to an industry in which I have never seen a recession. I have seen a slow down that took out a few dealers that had made some bad decisions or built their business on a weak box-house foundation. But, I see that happening now in this slow-down. Incidentally, these were then and are today large dealers, not small mom and pops, with management that was supposedly experienced. Again "Rotten At the Top---".

This concludes my intro and I'll start right off with new changes that are occurring at Extron and Inline!

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