Thomasson Marketing Group

Thomasson Marketing GroupThomasson Marketing Group helps end-users and distributors assemble technology into cohesive systems.

By Tim O’Connor

The past 20 years saw a shift in how manufacturers bring their products to market. As the cost of maintaining inventory rose, manufacturers decided they no longer wanted to be distributors. They chose to focus on their core competencies: developing and producing products based on market need. The actual sale of those products to end-users was increasingly left to distributors.

As the responsibilities shifted, the importance of distributors began to increase. “They do so many things that get overlooked,” says Jordan Thomasson, president and CEO of Thomasson Marketing Group (TMG). “Distribution provides an invaluable service to manufacturer’s representatives, to end-users, to everyone around.”

As a former distribution executive himself, Thomasson understands the value of distributors, especially those working in the low voltage electronics industry. Distributors stock products and make them available on a real-time basis, they test systems out to ensure quality before shipping and they can pre-program devices to save contractors time in the field. “There are value-added services that are provided,” he says. “The distributors in these particular markets have evolved with the industry.” Thomasson box

Although distributors have increased their services, they still require an expert middleman that can keep them up-to-date on the latest innovations and help them see the larger picture of how different technologies can fit together into a cohesive solution. TMG has been that partner for the past 14 years.

Thomasson founded TMG in 2003 after leaving ADI, a division of Honeywell, the year before. Through TMG, Thomasson began consulting for manufacturers that could design and produce their products but did not know how to bring them to market in North America. Among TMG’s early customers was Hansol, at the time a Samsung spinoff, which needed help getting its products into distribution channels through ADI and Tri-Ed. More clients soon followed and TMG quickly grew its consulting services and capabilities, eventually evolving into a full-fledged manufacturer’s rep.

“As time progressed, our manufacturers appreciated the job we were doing and they talked us into expanding geographically into northern California and eventually the Pacific Northwest,” Thomasson says. Today, TMG itself covers 11 western states and has an alliance with two other firms, which provides a footprint to cover the continental United States.

Solving Technology Puzzles

TMG’s primary market is closed-circuit television systems, where it represents companies such as Hanwha Techwin, Altronix, Salient and Raytec. However, its manufacturers cover a wide range of security solutions.

Code Blue, for example, produces emergency mass notifications systems for campus environments that allow schools or businesses to send out text messages alerting everyone in the area of a potential danger. Messages can be tailored to a specific group: students might receive a warning to stay away from a specific building while faculty could be given instructions on how to lockdown a classroom.

The system can also send out updates through digital signs, video and social media accounts. “Security personnel can control the information that is released over social media,” Thomasson says of Code Blue’s system. “That way, we don’t have hysterical parents overloading the telecom lines.”

Many of TMG’s manufacturers provide technologies that build off each others’ systems. Sielox offers a browser-based crisis management solution that allows teachers, administrators and first responders to communicate, provide location and status and to initiate lockdown via any computer, tablet or mobile device. The system can be used in coordination with Sielox Access Control and Code Blue’s messaging technology to secure a campus during an emergency.

Other systems might bring technology from different manufacturers, such as Harman and VANCO, together to amplify a church sermon or switch video sources on the TVs at a sport bar. “You have all these different pieces of the puzzle and they all complement each other,” Thomasson says.

Showcasing Technology

The company operated out of Thomasson’s garage until 2011 when TMG moved into a 2,100-square-foot facility in Chino, Calif., a suburb of Los Angeles. With continued growth TMG is currently in escrow, with plans to expand to a 7,500-square-foot building in the October time frame.

One of the primary motivators behind the proposed move was to increase its training capabilities. TMG’s previous location could hold a maximum of 36 people in its training and technology center. The new facility will hold up to 100.

“We spend a fair amount of time doing trainings, certifications and presentations for end-users, the transportation industry, retail, utilities, architects, engineers and consultants,” Thomasson says. “Our job is to sell our manufacturing partners’ solutions.”

The training center also strengthens TMG’s sales pitch by acting as a showcase for its manufacturers’ technology. One of the challenges to selling manufacturing equipment is getting the end-user hands-on time so they can familiarize themselves and gain confidence that the machine will fulfill their need. “Just about every product we represent is functional in the center,” Thomasson says.

Distributors have access to the training and technology center as well, and can use it to host customers and deliver product presentations. “I would say this technology center is probably booked three weeks out of the month,” Thomasson says.

TMG’s facility itself is an exhibition of its manufacturing partners’ technologies. The building is covered with 30 cameras that allow it to act as a remote demonstration site for surveillance solutions from Hanwha Techwin, which manufacturers the Samsung branded solution. The entire Hanwha sales organization has access to the camera system, enabling sales reps across North America to provide potential customers with a live test of the system. “It can give someone a real-time, real-world environment depiction of what they expect to see,” Thomasson explains.

Companies are willing to work so closely with TMG because it continuously demonstrates that it is in business for the right reasons. “This business doesn’t exist to support the lifestyle of the principals or partners in the firm,” Thomasson says. “It’s here to be a sustainable enterprise that will continue to support our manufacturing partners and distribution partners in the future.”

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