At the grand opening of the new Musical Distributors Group facilty, (l-r)
Doug Hervey, David Van Epp, Jack Kuhn, Dwayne Rando,
Waldina Rando, Agnès Savvides, Steven Savvides, CEO; Jennifer Whritenour,
Joe Clynes, Joe Penola, Rob Olsen, and Jack Thompson.
Musical Distributors Group
Hands-on exhibits and tailored service connect
global brands with retailers
On any given day, shipments arrive at the Musical Distributors Group from China, Germany, Denmark, Poland, Korea, New Zealand, and half a dozen other points around the globe. The real story inside MDG, however, is where they go from there. During its 13 years in business, MDG has channeled to the U.S. market such brands as Höfner basses, G7th capos, LD Systems, and many more, using advanced data systems and logistics to snap new brands directly into the supply chain. As of this year, though, it’s also the central showroom where retailers can explore those brands up close. In 2015, MDG moved from its longtime home in Boonton, New Jersey to a new location in nearby Riverdale, about 30 miles outside New York City. A year later, it unveiled its newly built Experience Center, a vast exhibit showcasing a concert line array system, production lighting, and full backline rig, plus more than 50 lighting fixtures, 20 speaker systems, and a variety of amps, effects pedals, headphones, and peripheral gear—all drawn from its partner brands. For MDG, always immersed in the service side of distribution, it’s one more way to be more than just a station on the way to dealers.
“Our goal in building the Experience Center was to provide personal interaction with our customers and bring them to us,” says Steven Savvides, president of MDG. “We now offer a comfortable and comprehensive environment in which dealers and clients can see, hear, touch, and fully experience our brands. We believe spending quality time with our dealers, to fully understand their needs, is the key to a successful partnership.”
For Savvides, who founded the company in 2003, Musical Distributors Group grew out of his previous role as a manufacturer’s rep. With experience representing more than 100 brands including Shure, Behringer, and Casio, Savvides approached distribution from a sales perspective—an eye toward building and showcasing value—more than the proverbial “box-moving” side. MDG would make its name on tailoring personalized service to its partner brands, getting to know the manufacturers and their needs on every level. “We’ve evolved into a company capable of providing whatever services a manufacturer needs to enhance its presence in the U.S. market,” Savvides says.
With its move to Riverdale last year, MDG took that side of the business a step further. In its 30,000-square-foot facility, double the size of its old home base, the company maintains a guitar shop where every Höfner instrument undergoes a complete set-up and quality check to ensure it ships in perfect playing condition. An in-house electronics shop provides service for MDG’s wide-ranging selection of effects pedals. Warranty repairs, parts requests, technical assistance, and on-the-phone trouble-shooting can all be handled on-site. A marketing department turns out diverse content for everything from trade show displays to advertising, websites, and social media. “We’ve made investments in social media personnel, dealer portals, and more,” Savvides says. “The way customers and retailers are communicating has a big impact on our approach to interacting with them.”
Meanwhile, in the expansive warehouse at MDG headquarters, a fulfillment team packs and ships hundreds of orders each day in sizes ranging from a single box to multiple pallet loads. In addition to the brands mentioned earlier, the distributor carries products from Laney Amplification, Ultrasone Headphones, EBS Bass Amps, and DarkGlass Effects pedals, among many other brands, all of which are kept in stock in Riverdale. Under contracts negotiated with UPS, FedEx, and a variety of freight carriers, orders can be shipped at substantial cost savings to the customer—and delivered to retail partners of every size and business model. MDG has active accounts with nearly every m.i. dealer in the country, and a sophisticated computer system lets it interact seamlessly with the ordering systems of major chains and e-tailers. Thus, it’s essentially a turnkey procedure to get a new brand up and running through its retail network. “We can provide access to the distribution channel very quickly and efficiently,” says Savvides.
In the present retail landscape, MDG has been well served by both its scope and its flexibility. Faced with changing buying patterns and economic factors, says Savvides, some retailers have shifted away from consistent bulk ordering toward smaller, less predictable orders to respond to circumstances on the fly. To accommodate these “just in time” orders, a distributor must keep a deeper and wider assortment of products in stock—which, between its large network of partners and its prodigious warehouse space, MDG can afford to do. With the opening of its Experience Center this year, it’s also gained the tools to show how those products come alive and interact in a sales setting. “Dealers fly in for a day of presentations and leave with a much better understanding of our brands and what we have to offer,” says Savvides. “It’s a total win-win.”
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