During COVID-19 Crisis, Audio America Lends A Logistics Helping Hand; Bolsters Feeding America Partnership
Distributor Audio America is parlaying its operational soundness during the COVID-19 outbreak by offering warehouse space and delivery options to businesses having trouble fulfilling orders. At the same time, it is sustaining its eight-year-long partnership with Feeding America – which, to date, has resulted in the funding of roughly 330,000 meals for those in need – in endeavoring to pitch in on several fronts during these extraordinary times.
“We’re fortunate in that we are able to operate from a warehousing standpoint,” CEO Jonathan Elster tells Dealerscope. “We ship and sell products like mobile devices, laptop displays and security and networking. And we saw that people were having challenges from a distribution standpoint getting product out to businesses and consumers, so we made an offer on social media to people who needed help with distribution and shipment.” The offer extends to providing alternative logistics options for medical, home supplies and non-refrigerated items, according to the notice the company has posted in places such as LinkedIn and Facebook.
“It’s gotten really good results and feedback. It’s about helping people in times of need. We’ve been helping out companies in places that were completely locked out and couldn’t ship. We’ve been helping vendors and even helping in these other categories that are out of our wheelhouse, like non-refrigerated product. We have lots of calls lined up to try to help people out.”
Elster says the company has so far been fortunate to be able to continue to ship nationwide, with few delays. “The only changes we’ve made from our everyday business is having created curbside will-call in our five locations. We also have 24-hour pickup, for customers who want to come after hours. Our core business, our integrators, are still operating, because more people are working from home, so there’s high demand for displays and networking, with multiple people working from a home, and for more security. We’re doing what we can to support our dealers and integrators from every aspect.”
Additionally, the company is enhancing its relationship with the national food bank organization Feeding America, with which Audio America has had an eight-year relationship, and for whom, in that stretch of time, it has helped fund around 330,000 meals – “and counting,” explains Elster. “Feeding America is a culture for us. It’s been a great partnership, and we thought, this year, let’s give part of the proceeds on our distribution and logistics to them.”
Elster says his message to integrators and dealers is one of positivity.
“Our first priority is to protect the health of our employees and our customers,” he says. “Other than that, I’m a very optimistic guy. We’re very resilient people. The economy was strong going into this, and yes, this is an obstacle. However, we’ve been through this before so I am optimistic that the back half of the year will be strong. There’s been a lot of demand and growth – 2019 was a tremendous year for our customers. And I don’t see why things won’t rebound very quickly. Through these times, we’re providing as many services as possible, helping to keep them going. There have been availability challenges, obviously, but we’re doing what we can to make sure we have the stock to support our customers. And once we get through this, we’ll become even stronger. I think the back half will be excellent.
“Our customers are buying. They’ve not stopped. It’s nice to see that our integrators are still busy during difficult times.”
Amidst all that is happening now, Audio America is additionally in the process of integrating its business with C.E.D., which it had acquired just one month ago. “It’s an exciting time for us. We need to remain optimistic and focused on the future. The team is working hard. We could set up everyone remotely very quickly; my IT staff did an incredible job and there are very few issues. We’ll get through this.”