“We’re here because my father didn’t like the cold weather in New York,” said Jeffrey Wolf, one of the managing partners at Herman Pro AV, a family-owned business-to-business company based in Miramar that supplies a wide spectrum of audiovisual and electronic components to customers in 50 states, Latin America and the Caribbean.
Arnold Wolf, who worked in the electronics distribution business in New York City, moved to Miami in the early 1960s and bought Herman Electronics Inc. with a former partner in 1963. Herman Electronics was originally set up by Henry Herman in the 1950s to sell electronic equipment to consumers and businesses. Arnold Wolf expanded the small firm, shifting sales from consumers to businesses and specializing in audiovisual (AV) equipment.
Sons Jeffrey and David, both Miami natives, joined their father in 1989 after they obtained their graduate degrees from the University of Miami — David, an MBA; Jeffrey, a law degree.
Working with their father, who still is active in the company, the two brothers grew the business by expanding their bank of equipment manufacturers (cables, connectors, adaptors, power products, audio and video devices, etc.), adding new product lines, boosting their national sales efforts, adding new warehouses and offering clients customized supply chain services. In 2012, the company added a new division (Herman Integration Services) based in Tampa. It offers clients engineering, programming, installation and maintenance services for their AV systems. The number of its employees grew from 20 in 1989 to more than 135 today.
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“We can provide our customers with everything they need,” Jeffrey Wolf said. “Herman Pro AV sells the equipment, and Herman Integration Services installs it.” The company has decades of experience, 60-plus equipment suppliers, access to large stocks of equipment at four warehouses, procurement and logistics solutions, plus services related to installing and successfully operating large AV systems, he said.
AV is much bigger than the overhead projectors you may have used in high school and college. Herman Pro AV sells to system integrators, specialized firms that design and build AV, sound and video systems for large corporations, sports and entertainment complexes, museums, universities and, yes, K-12 schools. The company’s equipment was used in the Marlins stadium, CNN’s communications center in New York City, Hard Rock restaurants, the elder Bush and Clinton presidential libraries and the giant CityCenter urban complex in Las Vegas, to name a few. The company changed the name from Herman Electronics to Herman Pro AV in the early 2000s, Jeffrey said. “But we decided not to change it to Wolf, since the Herman brand was so strong.”
Owners: The Wolf family. Arnold Wolf is chairman; sons Jeffrey and David are managing partners.
Launched under the Wolf family: 1963 in Miami.
Revenues: Herman Pro AV, representing the largest share of the group’s business, logged revenue growth of more than
20 percent in 2016, and projects 25 percent growth this year, Wolf said.
Herman Integration Services, the sister firm set up in 2012, was listed as one of the country’s fastest-growing companies in Inc. Magazine’s 2016 ranking of 5,000 firms. Sales for this unit were $8.5 million in 2015, and in the three years between 2012 and 2015, the Integration Services division saw revenues increase by more than 2,900 percent. An active sales effort and strong demand for its services propelled the firm’s impressive three-year sales growth.
The difference: “We’re not just shipping boxes and equipment to customers,” Jeffrey Wolf said. “We offer logistics solutions depending on what customers need.” Herman Pro AV buys products from more than 60 manufacturers and maintains a wide stock of cables and equipment at its four warehouses so orders can be shipped rapidly to clients. The company can send individual items as needed or assemble kits made up of cable and electronic components ready for installation. The firm can make one large shipment or hold merchandise at its warehouses, making partial shipments as clients develop different stages of complex projects. In addition, Herman Integration Services provides customers with the engineering, programming and technical expertise to install and start up new AV systems.
Clients: More than 500 system integrators, including AVI-SPL and Mood Media.
Competitors: Anixter (wire and cable), Pacific Radio (AV and electronic equipment, cable).
Employees: More than 135.
Offices: Corporate headquarters in Miramar, offices of Herman Integration Services in Tampa, and warehouses/distribution centers in Florida (Miramar), Georgia, New Jersey and Nevada.
Outside view: SKC Communications, a Missouri-based company that designs, builds and manages AV, video and voice systems for clients nationwide, has been working with Herman Pro AV for more than four years. “They’ve helped us out several times when we couldn’t procure the items we needed on short timelines,” said Chris Laing, SKC’s director of technical operations. For example, they supplied SKC with specialized cabling and skilled installation professionals for big projects, something competitors couldn’t do. “Herman provides superb customer service. When we have a design issue, need additional resources or need to find the best price possible on a product, they’re just a phone call away.”
Worst mistake ever: Relying too much on a limited number of suppliers or customers. Diversification is critical.
Best decisions ever: Build the company’s list of domestic and international equipment suppliers, provide supply chain options tailored to customers’ individual needs, add the integration services unit and expand the sales force. Commit to constantly provide the highest quality in customer service.
Strategy: Continue to expand the domestic and international customer base, add new equipment manufacturers, offer the widest range of equipment and the best logistical options for clients. At the same time, find and develop more high-quality professionals for integration services (engineering, programming, installation, maintenance).
Challenges: Effectively meet the expanding demand for specialized AV equipment and services. “The industry is growing, and there are tremendous opportunities for us,” Jeffrey Wolf said. “The more products lines we can add, the more consolidation we can offer, the more we can grow.”
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