West coast AV distribution company ActiveLight and sister company CineLight announced today they have been acquired by Electrograph Systems of Hauppauge, NY for an undisclosed sum.
Senior Analyst and Editor
of Projection Monthly &
ActiveLight was spin-off of Boxlight Corp. in 1998 while CineLight was created to distribute to specialized home theater installers and resellers (CineLight is Hitachi’s exclusive distributor in 13 Western states). While both companies made their mark, it was ActiveLight that seized the high ground in the nascent electronic signage market as far back as 2004 practically writing the book on developing new marketing opportunities through creative distribution initiatives.
The acquisition raises a number of strategic questions, which due to time constraints, we were unable to answer — but we will have a full report in the next HDTV Retailer. For example, was the move a way for Electrograph to gain a strong footing in the Digital Signage market — and area where ActiveLight played an pioneering role? Or is the sale an acknowledgement of the failure of the Digital Signage initiative? Is Electrograph hoping to create a powerhouse distributor to create competitive pressures on other distributors? Or, is this the first sign of consolidation in the distributor layer of the channel as the rise of direct selling is putting pressure on the distributors?
ActiveLight was clearly one of the pioneers in developing the digital signage market, linking up with the NSCA (National Systems Contractors Assoc.) in 2004. Under the direction of ActiveLight’s Brad Gleeson, the company created the Digital Signage Showcase LIVE event at that popular system integrator expo in Las Vegas. This was perhaps the best Digital Signage workshop to date on US soil helping to kick-start the industry with speakers from around the globe reporting on successful business models, architecture (back-end) issues, best practice case studies and a presentation from successful content providers.
Gleeson tied the event together with a showcase vendor pavilion nested within the NSCA convention expo of some twenty companies offering products and solution for the digital signage market. To insure follow-up, he created an extensive wholesale publication called the Dynamic Digital Signage Resource Directory featuring a host of product and service suppliers that all just happened to be under the ActiveLight umbrella.
Rather than recreate the wheel, ActiveLight wisely chose to partner with CMPi, (a division of United Business Media in the UK) leveraging their publication expertise to create a first rate catalogue for the industry. The CMPi tie-up also included a quarterly publication highlighting business trends and technology specific to digital signage.
In hindsight the direction seems quite logical, but the credit for these visionary moves goes to Brad Gleeson and partner Herb Myers. They’ve demonstrated the unique role a value added distributor can play in education and market building through synergies and innovative partnerships that benefited the entire industry.
And now it seems it’s time for the Myers/Gleeson swan song — at least as far as AV distribution goes. The big question we want to know — what are Gleeson and Myers up to next? With their kind of vision and leadership, we are looking for their next act. Stay tuned. — SS