S&S: We’re here at the soft opening of Shure MEA’s new office here in Dubai – what can your customers can expect from the new operation?
Shure is a multinational company, we have many offices around the world but not all of these offices are necessarily the same. This office is a market development office. What that means is that we are providing three levels of support: first, making sure that the distributors we have in place across the Middle East and Africa region are the right partners — that they’re qualified, trained, and getting whatever they need to do the job right. Secondly we are focused on knowledge transfer. We want to make sure that all levels of the channel are educated whether that be the distributor, the integrator, the rental company or even the end user in some cases if it’s a big end user, like a corporate bank or a government department etc. The third thing is that we want to find out what it is that’s missing for us in this region. Do we have all the right products for this region? Or do we need to develop something for this region? That’s our real main focus.
S&S: So will your customers be visiting the new office when they want to make new purchases?
From a sales perspective — this office doesn’t do sales. We don’t keep stock, we don’t invoice, all of that happens through our exclusive network of distributors. Before we moved to this new office we had a fairly small location so we were very limited in what we could do. Now in this new facility we can conduct real trainings more regularly. This was generally held outside the office, but now I think we’re going to see more of it inside the office.
S&S: With the feedback you’re getting so far within this region, what’s the main demand as far as products are concernedor is there a particular area where you’re seeing growth?
Because we cover such a large geography, from Morocco to Dubai, Egypt to South Africa, we don’t have a ‘one size fits all’ response or request from the market. From certain areas, like Dubai or Johannesburg, obviously the market is a bit more advanced and people want sophisticated solutions, while in certain other areas they don’t. It’s all about educating the basics — what is a microphone, how does it work, what’s the right microphone for the right application and so on, so we’ve had to have a response to the market that covers all the different levels of knowledge, And also our response has to be multi-generational. On one hand you have the young kids who are now content creators — they want solutions that are simple and easy, like a microphone that connects to an iPhone so they can do their YouTube video or their SoundCloud song. Or, you could meet a really experienced engineer in a TV studio, where he’s been using our products for 20 years and has great insight on what we need to do or how we can improve.
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S&S: As well as the new office opening, what plans are in store for the rest of the year at Shure MEA?
We’ve been operating this entity — Shure MEA — for two years now and we’ve been doing a lot in those two years. We’ve been involved at CABSAT, InfoComm, we hope to be involved in Gitex this year and we were part of Mediatech in South Africa. We’ve been doing a lot of trainings, certifications, and seminars, and we want to double up on that. Now I think it’s more about having greater intensity, having different levels — so not just basic level but maybe an advanced level, and taking the feedback we got last year and improving.
S&S: Why do you think it’s important to get out and about to industry shows like those you just mentioned?
We’re actually focusing on three different things — one is print, through our distributors who are advertising either online or offline. Then we’re doing activations such as being at exhibitions, roadshows, or conducting customer engagement events. The third thing is content — we want to create our own content. If you look at our operations elsewhere we have some amazing videos and amazing pictures, so that’s something we want to do as well.
S&S: Where do you see the year ahead going for the pro audio market?
I have heard some people talking with a negative sentiment about the market. But, do you know what? Even if it does happen there’s nothing we can do about it, so I’d rather focus on what’s positive out of it. If people are really busy — the integrator is busy, the consultant is busy — then obviously I don’t have an opportunity to meet them, although I’m getting a lot of business out of it because there’s a lot of projects. But even if they end up having more time on their hands then it’s still good for me because I can go knock on their door and say ‘can we have a meeting?’ and they might say ‘yes, we have time now’. So, whether you like it or not, things will happen and you have to make the most of it. If 2016 does go down and people don’t have enough projects on hand, I will make the most of it — spend time with them, let them know about our products, then in 2017 go for the up-turn. Finding the time is the biggest challenge in this industry. When you knock on the door of a consultant, a systems integrator, even a rental company today, they are all just so busy — they’re flat out.