ADI NA installs Hao at top
MELVILLE, N.Y.--Yvonne Hao has the friendly, breezy style of someone who's been running the show for a while, though she's only been in her new role as chief of ADI's North American operation for a few short months.
Of course, she's not exactly a newcomer to ADI. She joined the distribution giant in 2003 as director in the Corporate Strategy and Business Development group and most recently served as vice president, global marketing for ADI parent company Honeywell Security.
ADI has expanded in a big way since the spring of 2006, when it acquired the French company Gardiner Groupe Europe (search "ADI to make Paris acquisition" at www.securitysystemsnews.com). Since that time, ADI's expanded into India and there's word that ADI is taking a hard look at further expansion in Asia. With this growth, ADI president Tom Polson is now focusing his efforts on the global business.
In the newly created position of vice president of North America for ADI, Hao is responsible for ADI's North American business, with its more than 100 branch locations and hubs. ADI offers security, fire, home solutions, wire/cable, CCTV, access, and sound categories and more than 500 vendors. And ADI's North American business got a lot bigger recently with the April 2007 acquisition of Burtek (search "Honeywell to acquire Burtek from Richardson" at www.securitysystemsnews.com).
"We've taken ADI globally, but our mantra that we think about every day, is how to leverage our scale and infrastructure around the world, while keeping that local entrepreneurial flavor and focus on the customer," Hao said recently in a one-on-one interview.
Asked about the challenges in her new role, Hao said, "After years of growth, we've been seeing a contraction in the home building market." She said ADI is working to help customers "find new avenues for growth such as custom electronic and residential retrofit opportunities."
ADI sees the home automation space as very promising, Hao said: "In the past we used to think about home systems, HVAC, lighting, security systems, as separate. Now there's a lot of integration." She said the home media server market is growing because prices are falling and the products are now simpler to install and integrate with other systems.
ADI has invested in home automation showrooms in a few of its 120 branch locations and Hao said it's considering creating more showrooms. They look like living rooms with fully integrated security, home theater and automation. ADI customers come in to see how the systems work, and in turn, they bring their customers into the showrooms. "They walk in and the system sells itself," Hao said.
She is proud, too, of the ADI Systems Group in Louisville, Ky., where its technology experts' sole focus is to talk to customers about nitty-gritty issues, such as what products to spec for a particular IP project. "They field 1,100 calls a day. It's [services] like this that differentiate us and keep our customers happy," Hao said.
"In the distribution business there's no intellectual property and it's not the products that make us different. It's the people," she said.