Whether it’s a Mobile Beat event, a lighting tradeshow like LDI, or a music industry show like NAMM, if you end up at the American DJ booth, you will encounter one of the hardest working but greatest to know representatives of any company serving the DJ market: American DJ’s national sales manager, Alfred Gonzalez. Recently, Mobile Beat Publisher Ryan Burger sat down with Alfred to get the scoop on how he got into the lighting game, and how he and his company are approaching the DJ market these days.
Alfred Gonzalez: Well, at the age of 12, my brother and I decided to become DJs. We used to go and shop at all the DJ stores. And we happened to come upon the DJ store which is called SML Incorporated, which was Surplus Merchandise Liquidators, which was a division before American DJ actually established. And so I started there working in the warehouse packing boxes, sending out stuff for UPS, also unloading trucks, going on deliveries and picking up products, everything you’d probably think about in a warehouse. From that point, American DJ was developing, and that was in back of our retail store. At that time, we were just importing basically DCAMs, hot lights, oscillators, helicopters. And so what I would do also was “part of my delivery thing” was run to the airport, pick up a truckload of those type of fixtures that were sent to the airport (at that time, from Taiwan). So then we’d sell them in the retail store. And before we knew it, the retail store was growing with the DJ business, and at that DJ store we sold all types of products, everybody in the business. But then on the back side, it was only American DJ and then we started establishing dealerships throughout the country with American DJ. They both ran independent companies. And then once that happened, American DJ was growing so big that they had to get a bigger warehouse.
So the retail store stayed at the same location, and then American DJ, of course, got a big warehouse and started bringing in more products…A few years after that, the retail store had slowed down due to some of the giants in the business: Circuit City, Best Buy, and so on.
So at that point, the owner of American DJ, Chuck Davies, asked if I wanted to go back and work on the American DJ part. And I said, sure. I’d already had my experience of working in the warehouse, working as a salesman in retail, working as a manager, and also I’m dealing with the reps and training sales staff and all that. So all that kind of helped going into American DJ and developing from there.
R B: So you’ve truly been there since the absolute beginning. Tell us about what you’re doing now with the company.
A G: Well, when I first went back to American DJ, I started off with whatever opportunities came up…One was audio. We brought in our audio and I’d go across the country and go with the reps and go visit dealers and talk to them about
our audio products and try to get them to bring them in. We were doing accessories and cables and all kinds of cases
and things like that; again with the lighting and the audio part and then the all-in-one thing.
At that time it was a little more competitive because there was a lot more established companies in those areas
that had been around for years. But it was something that we had in our mind and we were targeting those areas. And eventually, as of today, you can see with AccuCable and American Audio, things like that, that we’re progressing in that.
But even going back, when I was doing that I was going around, visiting dealers, training the dealers on our products, also training our sales reps about our products as well. And at the same time, I was learning a lot, not only from the dealers but the sales reps that I was traveling with. So I picked up some good traits from every different rep, from every different dealer, and I kind of put that all together.
I’ve already been on the DJ end of it. My father had a nightclub, so I learned that part of the business a bit; and then of course, working the retail part…
And still today, it’s pretty much the same responsibilities.
Obviously with the title “national sales manager” I manage the whole sales team. We have sales guys in Canada, Mexico and South America, as well as a large team in the United States, which at present is our biggest market. So those are some of the duties that I take on as a sales manager.
R B: And I know you’re very active in traveling. Tell us a little about your involvement with ADJ On Tour.
A G: Yeah. Well, you know what? It worked hand in hand, because obviously as you know, Mobile Beat had their tour going all over. So we had our sales rep join with you, and at the same time we were doing our ADJ On Tour events surrounding the dates that you guys had them. And it worked out really well because I got out there and it’s one of the things that goes way back from when I first went back to American DJ was just traveling and going out and meeting the people that actually use our products…Not only that, they’re giving you some feedback about the products, how we can make them better…Some of these guys do it four to five days a week, you know? So who’s the best one to give you knowledge and experience about your product? It’s the people that are using it.
So that’s why for me it’s very educational out there…
You know, we go out there…and I’m kind of calculating, well, only about 20 percent are doing uplighting; so that leaves 80 percent opportunity for all these guys to make more money if they invest in it. So that’s one of the things that we’re looking for, areas like that that we can have these mobile DJs grow and invest into lights that are going to give them a huge return. So again, the educational part of it is the main thing why we?re out there on the road.
R B: Who else has joined you on these tour stops?
A G: Well, we’ve had salesman-product specialist Edgar Bernal, which is also know as DJ E-Tronik, who was the 2010 DMC champ. And what he does with us is he goes out there and he demonstrates all the American Audio products. He’s really the flagship of American Audio right now and the VMS4. He shows people all the techniques and they get to see a pro do his thing at every ADJ On Tour…You know, every mobile DJ always wants to be the next DJ higher in line, whether it’s a touring DJ, a club DJ, or just the biggest mobile DJ out in the market. So that’s a good thing with American Audio and Edgar going out there and really demonstrating 110 percent of how these units work. So it’s the VMS4, the VMS2, the Versadeck. Not only that, he’s actually showing five different media software players to help them choose the right application for the gigs that they’re doing.
And then also, of course, our sales manager for American Audio, Tom Parrett, has been to quite a few of them as well.
And for him it’s great because he’s the eyes and ears of American Audio out there. So he goes out and really gets the feedback from the end users, and also get suggestions of how we can make our American Audio products better.
…By us going out there we actually convince them that these are good, durable products. On the lighting side, it’s going to fill a lot of needs in order to grow their business.
With the ADJ On Tour, it’s not so much for the purpose of just selling our products, but it’s educating the people. And again, when we do these we’re educating them about uplight and so on and so on. They have a lot of choices when it comes to lighting or audio…So it doesn’t always lead to a sale, but it leads more to education and it gets them out there really thinking about it. And maybe at that time, they’re not going to purchase those types of products. But in a couple months they’re going to save some money and they’re going to say, hey, I remember I went to that On Tour and what they talked about, and this is how I’m going to expand my business.
R B: Is there anything that people might not know about yourself or about American DJ that you want people to know?
A G: You know, probably the biggest thing is that we want everyone to know that we’re actually a partner in this business with them, because again we have our saying within the company, is “we’re not successful unless you’re successful.” So that goes to the dealerships; that goes to the consumers. So that’s the number one thing that we really do; one thing that we have at our company.
And again, you mentioned it earlier, we have a lot of employees that have been with the company a lot of years. As a matter of fact, most of the guys who started at the beginning were all from mobile DJs or they were from bands or audio engineers like that. And so everybody has a lot of experience. So that’s the one thing why we can go out there and we can say, hey, here’s this product, here’s this product, and we put the features in it that we feel we could use, because we’ve actually all used the products out in the field. But again, not only our feedback, but the consumers’ feedback
and the dealers’ feedback? The whole combination of that is what gives us the ability to create these great products and
allows our business to keep on expanding and going to Elation Lighting, going to Global Truss and AccuCable and all these branches of our ADJ group.
R B: Fantastic. Alfred Gonzalez, national sales manager of American DJ, caring about the industry, getting out there. So if they don’t reach you at the Mobile Beat Las Vegas show, they’ll definitely reach you at the ADJ On Tour stop coming your way this year.
Filed Under: Business, Issue #140, Performing
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