Inside the Launch of VIA International
CEO Stearns says transition is taking place quickly, and with more acquisitions to comeOctober 25, 2013 By Stephen Silver
We spoke with Randy Stearns, the CEO of VIA, longtime head of Engineered Environments and a former CEDIA chairman, at this week's HTSA fall conference in Chicago about the company's first days and its plans for the future.
"We want to bring a better experience to the high-net-worth clients that we have, that are very demanding and deserving of the best, and so we're figuring out how to do that, and we believe we can change the game substantially."
The merger, Stearns said, unfolded over about a 20-month period, with initial discussions taking place in late 2011. All along, he said, it was the same six companies participating in the discussions. "We were very thoughtful in our process, and we wanted to come out of the gate with a very thorough plan of how to go forward." "A whole slew" of consultants - on everything from branding to mergers and acquisitions to finance to legal- were retained throughout the merger, which was announced to the public in August.
Stearns said that the six companies- Cyber Sound, DSI Entertainment, Engineered Environments, Paragon Technology, S3 Aurant, and Studio AV- will cease going by the names of their established brands and will be called VIA- and that the conversion has happened faster than they originally expected.
"We're converting everybody to the VIA brand, and it's happening quicker than we thought," he said. "We thought it would be about a year conversion, where we would start with, in my case, 'Engineered Environments- a VIA Company,' and then transition in six months, and flip the two, to be 'VIA- Formerly Engineered Environments,' and then in a year switch over to 'VIA.' But with the announcement, it seems everyone has accepted the new name very quickly, and we're moving right to that branding immediately."
The companies' cars, vans and business cards will all bear the VIA name in 120 days, Stearns added. And now the company is concentrating on "cultural alignment."
Stearns also said that the company is "in discussions" with other firms about expanding VIA, and that the first acquisition will likely take place in the first quarter of 2014. Stearns also addressed the question of VIA's buying group membership.