Bob Rabbito and Tim Huck have told Marketnews that their stores, Trutone Electronics and Powerline Electronics, respectively, have joined 2001 Audio Video Group Select.
Trutone, on Dundas St. E. in Mississauga, signed on to 2001's new buying group for independents effective last Friday, June 1. Powerline, says Partner and Co-Founder Huck, has been affiliated with them for "about a month."
That move was followed in mid-May by Star Electronics in Toronto's west end, according to Steve Nagle, Director of Development for 2001 Audio Video Group Select. Star's owner Sevan Stepanian was unavailable for comment for this report.
2001 Audio Video Group Select was announced around last Halloween, following sister company Centre Hi-Fi's introduction of independent franchises to its mix of storefronts last September. Powerline, located on Woodlawn Rd. W. in Guelph, about an hour drive west of Toronto, was the first indy to join 2001's incarnation of the bannerless affiliate model.
The JVC old boys network is evidently still strong, and helped Rabbito and Huck decide which buying group to ally with. "I've known Frank (Annecchini) and Rocco (D'Alimonte), for years," recalled Rabbito, of the heads of 2001 Audio Video and Centre Hi-Fi respectively. "Trutone was a JVC dealer when I bought it in 1986, and Rocco was head of sales at JVC, and of course Frank was a big JVC dealer." The three also had deepened their acquaintanceship outside business hours while feeding the ponies at Toronto's Woodbine Racetrack.
Nagle is also a JVC alumnus. "In fact," he recounted to Marketnews last October, "it was Rocco who hired me 30 years ago at JVC." Nagle left Samsung Canada last year as VP of sales.
"I just signed up Friday," says Rabbito of the deal with 2001 Audio Video Group Select. "They know their business, and operate in the same market that I am in. I think they run an operation that is clean and lean, straightforward, and honest. We'll take advantage of their buying power, which an independent needs in these days of slim margins. I didn't have a choice of leaving that money on the table." 2001 has about two dozen corporate stores in southern Ontario, mostly in the Golden Horseshoe around Toronto and the west end of Lake Ontario.
Centre Hi-Fi has 30 corporate stores in Quebec, mostly within a 40 minute drive of Montreal, plus another 35 franchise stores in its Groupe Sélect. All, but one, were until last summer Dumoulin franchise operations. The sole exception is Kébecson, which as noted here at marketnews.ca, joined the group last week.
Trutone will also have the advantage of the media purchasing power of the 2001-Centre Hi-Fi coalition's almost 90 stores. It already has a significant presence in newsprint, but has not undertaken flyers. Rabbito says that adding flyers to its advertising campaigns will be the one difference that the public will notice.
Powerline, on the other hand, says Huck, will go its own way for advertising. "2001 Audio Video Group Select," he notes, "is strictly a buying group for us. We'll stick with our own advertising." Like Rabbito, he has been courted by all the buying groups. "One, I know these guys are good guys. I used to work with them as a rep for JVC Canada before opening Powerline in 1984. Rocco was the sales manager and Steve was my direct supervisor.
"Two," he continues, "2001 and Centre Hi-Fi have a good business with over 50 corporate stores, and don't need to wait to ask franchises if they should jump on a good deal. They're straight shooters."
None of the four new independents joining the select groups will amend its name. They will remain Kébecson, Powerline, Star, and Trutone.