"Every year since we've been in business, we've experienced double digit growth," says Philippe Rayes, CEO of Dorval, QC-based AV distributor Sherpa Group Inc. And it's this healthy growth that served as the impetus for the company to move to a larger office space in Ontario.
The office, showroom, and warehouse space, located at 335 Admiral Blvd. in Mississauga, about 35 minutes outside of downtown Toronto and just down the road from the old office, measures about 4,000 square feet in size. It's about 40% bigger than the old space, mostly in the showroom area. Warehouse space did increase marginally, but since most of the company's inventory continues to be housed in the Montreal office, they didn't feel pressure to find a location with a larger warehouse. The Mississauga office is designed to cater mostly to the will-call local business.
Rather, the focus in Mississauga was to have a space that was more conducive to holding demos, training, and counter days with suppliers, to offer a more pleasant "shopping" experience for Sherpa's custom integration customers, and afford the opportunity to hold other events, such as the grand opening event held in mid-November. "It's also a more comfortable workspace for the staff of three, with a motivating atmosphere, says Rayes. "And it allows room for continuous growth.
"When we acquired Positive Marketing," he continues, "we took over the lease of the office, and our business has been growing ever since. And the growth justified the need for an expanded space. It reflects more where we want to be."
The grand opening event, held Tuesday November 13 and Wednesday, November 14, hosted about 70 people, including 50 local dealers from within the Greater Toronto Area (GTA), like Toronto-based Aux City, TJC Systems Inc. from Hamilton, and Creative A Designs lnc. Denon, Marantz, Vanco International, Key Digital, SureCall, and TrendNET, set up exhibit booths, while TruAudio and RBH Sound had active demo areas featuring new products. TruAudio had an Atmos demo room that showcased custom cinema solutions like in-ceiling LCRs, custom soundbars, and the new high-end Select speaker series.
Sherpa also introduced two new additions to its brand line-up: VSSL, a multi-room music distribution system that allows for using any wireless protocol, like Chromecast and AirPlay 2, versus a proprietary app for music streaming throughout the home; and Axis Gear, which offers a retrofit motorized system for existing manual blinds. The latter company recently appeared on an episode of CBC venture capital TV show Dragons' Den, where they received an investment from Michele Romanow and Lane Merrifield.
Attendees enjoyed browsing booths, sitting in on demos, and talking with Sherpa staff, manufacturer and sales reps, and fellow dealers while enjoying drinks and food. Prizes were awarded through a spin wheel, where everyone who attended got to take something home. "It wasn't only pens and T-shirts," says Rayes, "but also bottles of wine, a Marantz receiver, and a pair of speakers." There were also "aggressive" promotions on wholesale pricing for dealers who attended over the two days.
Rayes is happy with the turnout, and the response from attendees, who said they enjoyed being able to spend quality time with suppliers, reps, and employees. "It wasn't just in and out," he says. "They learned something about new product, we gave them ideas on new solutions. We work hard at trying to provide our dealers with solutions to help secure their business and help them grow, and to offer something different from traditional retail. We want to offer solutions that are lucrative and reliable, and we want to help them upsell, and differentiate themselves."
Going forward, Rayes says Sherpa will continue to focus on the one-on-one relationship, offering great products at competitive prices, providing back-up and support, and helping dealers solidify their businesses. In 2019, expect to see the launch of a new transactional Website for dealers.
In addition to opening the doors to the possibility of hosting more events, and providing an overall more pleasant space for visitors and employees alike, Sherpa says the new, larger location reflects the company's commitment to investing heavily in the Ontario market.
"[Our growth]," says Rayes, "comes from taking care of our customers, caring about their business, teaching them, and helping them. And you can expect for us to continue doing that, even more so in Ontario."
The Sherpa Group team: (L-r) Daniel Mantei, Sales Manager, Ontario; Claudia Pizzi, Vice President & General Manager; Philippe Rayes, President & CEO; Shayne Walker, Sales Manager, CI Solutions, Quebec; Scott Bond, Mississauga Branch Manager; Dennis Bazin, National Business Development Manager; and Drew Vergil-Bisaillon, Sales Manager, Audio Solutions, Quebec.