Canadian Music Trade - June/July 2017 - Page 18

B&J Pro SUPPLIER SPOTLIGHT By Andrew King W hen Harman Professional announced a change to its Canadian distribution structure for its subsidiary audio brands, the Canadian MI and pro audio retail markets were introduced to a new business entity: B&J Pro. Of course, B&J Music is well known to MI retailers across the country as one of the oldest companies serving their market and the longtime home to major brands like Takamine, Ovation, and Gretsch Drums. In 2015, it became a division of MI juggernaut JAM Industries following JAM’s purchase of B&J’s parent company, Kaman Music, from Fender. B&J Pro represents the latest evolution of this long-running institution. While Harman Professional’s longtime Canadian distributor, SC Media Canada, will continue to represent brands like AKG, JBL Professional, and Soundcraft in the enterprise and rental markets, B&J Pro is now bringing Harman’s heralded lines to MI and pro audio retailers across the country. The new company appointed pro retail veteran Mark Finn as its GM to lead the charge, and as Finn reports, they’ve already made some impressive inroads since the official announcement in April 2017. “Our offerings are so unique that we can appeal to both traditional MI retailers, but also pro audio retail stores,” Finn offers. “That’s the distinction between B&J Music and B&J Pro. There are a lot of retailers specifically geared towards selling PA and recording equipment. These are accounts that I know and that our sales force knows well.” Finn comes to B&J Pro after eight years serving the pro retail sector with SFM, and prior to that was running a pro-focused division of Black + Decker industrial tools. “So this kind of retail is really my strength,” he says, “and we’ve developed a great team to support our goals.” Currently, those goals are to slowly and steadily scale up in terms of inventory and staff while also spurring market growth for each of their brands, which for the foreseeable future will be limited to AKG, Crown, dbx, JBL, Lexicon, and Soundcraft. “We know that the Harman Pro brands demand a pretty large segment of the market, and that’s going to require a knowledgeable and dedicated staff,” he says. “So far, we’re really excited about how everything’s progressing. The growth has 18 CANADIAN MUSIC TRADE (L-R) B&J PRO’S FRANK DIFRUSCIA, JENNIFER KASZEL, MARK FINN, RENE SITA & KATHLEEN LAMB been exactly what we thought it would be.” One of the ways they’re working towards those goals is leveraging the known strengths of B&J Music, including a big focus on simplicity and transparency. “Operations- wise, B&J Music and B&J Pro don’t differ that much,” Finn points out. “We want to make it simple and straightforward for the retailer, so it’s as easy to get a JBL speaker as it is to get a Kyser capo, and we have a firm plan in place to get there. There’s a lot of work to do, but the whole thing has been working really smoothly so far.” Finn believes his team will be running at full capacity within the next few months, admitting they have something of a head start considering Harman Professional’s reputation. “They’re an industry leader,” he enthuses, “and many dealers choose Harman as a one- stop shop for complementing pro audio brands. We’re targeting retailers that are going to maintain these brands’ reputation in the market. It’s exciting for us and exciting for our dealer partners – like, let’s work as a team and bring this thing to the limit.” Finn is happy to report that the transition has been relatively seamless thus far, largely owing to the expertise of both Harman Professional and JAM Industries. “We really did our homework before getting started and worked closely with the people at Harman to get things going,” he shares. “We’ve had nothing but a great response. Our fill rate is very high, and I’m excited to see where we’re going to be in six months. I think the sky is really the limit as far as what we can grab in terms of market share.” Asked about current trends in the MI and audio markets that they can capitalize on, Finn offers something of an inversion of the question. “Harman is always on the cutting edg