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A new Tevelam distribution center in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

Tevelam & ProShows

Serving The Biggest Markets In South America

Argentina has recently had its share of political and economic turmoil, but that hasn’t slowed the growth of Tevelam, one of South America’s leading music and sound distributors. Over the past 12 months, the Buenos Aires-based firm has expanded its product offering with the addition of Warwick guitars, Midas mixers, and Gator Cases and added significantly to its sales and marketing staff. To accommodate the additional staff and expanded inventory, the company has invested in a sleek new 40,000-square-foot distribution center. In addition to state-of-the-art warehouse systems and upgraded IT, the new facility features a striking music-themed mural that proudly announces the company’s commitment to music.

These investments in products, people, and facilities reflect CEO Hugo Martellotta’s confidence in the market, and his sales and marketing skills. He observes, “There are still tremendous opportunities if you focus on serving the customer and are consistent in your marketing efforts. We have always been very conservative financially, so we have the resources to promote and expand even in difficult times.”

Now celebrating its 54th year in business, Tevelam could serve as a case study in how to thrive in challenging economic conditions. Despite wild currency fluctuations and other local problems, the company has posted an enviable record of growth. Chalk this resilience up to a commitment to customer service and an ability to adapt to changing circumstances.

Tevelam was founded in 1958 as a distributor of radio and television components by Hugo’s parents, Leonardo and Elvira. By the time Hugo joined the company in 1978, the electronics parts market was clearly on the wane, and he began deftly repositioning Tevelam as an audio and music distributor. The first line he secured was Selenium speakers, manufactured in Brazil and now a division of Harman Professional.

Unlike most other local distributors at the time, Martellotta didn’t merely put out a Selenium price list and mail it to local dealers; he launched an all-out marketing blitz, staging clinics, training retailers, and developing extensive point-of-purchase materials. In addition, he built out a service facility to handle all local warranty claims. “We offered the same level of service that you’d expect from the manufacturer,” he explains. “And that really launched our business.” The comprehensive support for Selenium provided the template for all future sales and marketing efforts at Tevelam, including the current product lineup of Behringer, Line 6, Washburn, Parker, Framus, Koss, Ion, Kboard, and Randall.

Building on a strong base in Argentina, four years ago Martellotta teamed with Vladimir De Souza to open a new distribution business in Sao Paolo, Brazil, operating under the Proshows banner. Over the past year, Proshows, Brazil’s leading importer for the pro audio, lighting, and m.i. markets, has maintained sales growth topping 35%. Proshows’ portfolio of 23 brands includes four new entries: Gemini DJ, ddrum, Audio-Technica, and DBR, a manufacturer of acclaimed loudspeakers and drivers for the professional market. Dozens of new products stimulated the market last year, topped by Behringer’s X32 digital console, which sold hundreds of units in its first two months alone.

Large investments were made to enhance Proshows’ technical service, the company’s “greatest value proposal,” by hiring top professionals, liberally stocking spare parts, training and authorizing technical assistants around the country, implementing new technology for the logistics operations, etc.

With 14 regional sales offices and a 50,000-square-foot warehouse and distribution center, Proshows has the infrastructure to serve Brazil’s widely dispersed population.  However, De Souza is proudest of the integrated software system he uses to “tightly manage our 6,500 SKUs while ensuring our dealer customers exceptionally fast order fulfillment.”

Martellotta notes that Brazil, already one of the entertainment industry’s most important markets, is receiving even more attention due to the coming World Cup and Olympic Games and, by way of contrast, ongoing economic difficulties in Europe and the U.S. While acknowledging that increased competition has made business “harder for all players,” he says Proshows has adhered to “very structured strategic planning and succeeded with a value proposal targeted for the Brazilian market.”

The path to success in Argentina is “a little bit more complicated,” he continues. “Rigid government control over imports and exports and a blurred picture of the economy make planning harder for companies in all industries, but especially those in the entertainment market.”

Looking forward, Martellotta feels that long-term positive social and economic trends in both Argentina and Brazil will drive continued growth. “Despite the current economic issues, increased prosperity in the region has allowed people to pursue their passion for art and music, creating real demand,” he says. “Sales of the new, affordable digital recording products have exploded, because for the first time, our musicians have had the opportunity to set up their own studios. I don’t see these trends slowing, and we’re well positioned to take advantage of them.”


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