Kramer is one of the leading and fastest-growing AV manufacturers operating globally. In recent years, the company’s strategy has been dynamically changing due to the acquisition by Fortissimo Capital Fund, a prominent player and pioneer in the Pro AV industry. With this in mind, the new need to become closer to the end customer has emerged. As a response to this need, the new Kramer headquarters were opened in Amsterdam 12 months ago. Today, we have the pleasure to speak with Pete Baxter, Kramer’s Senior EMEA Vice President, and Robert Methorst, Kramer’s EMEA Marketing Director.

Iwona [AV Tech Magazine]: Since 2021, when Fortissimo Capital Fund invested in Kramer, we have witnessed rapid growth of your company in different markets. What are the most important goals for the EMEA market in terms of strategy nowadays?

Pete Baxter [Kramer]: Our strategy is very much focussed on customers’ experience. Kramer is well recognized for its broad and trusted portfolio of AV solutions. The focus is now on ensuring that customers understand and receive the best solution for their needs, with best-in-class service and support. Building on Kramer’s strong performance, we are fortifying our European leadership team and establishing a solid foundation to fuel exponential growth – particularly in the AvoIP space. This is crucial for creating a scalable organization that excels in delivering solutions that empower the physical-digital realm. By building a customer-centric regional office in Amsterdam, we aim to enhance market intimacy and improve responsiveness to customer needs throughout our EMEA territories.

Pete Baxter, Kramer’s Senior EMEA Vice President

Robert Methorst [Kramer]: Local insight is vital for our EMEA strategy. We need to adapt our AV solutions to each market’s unique needs, stay compliant with local regulations, and establish a customer-centric office in Amsterdam to build relationships and fine-tune our marketing strategies. This blend of global strategy and local knowledge is key to EMEA success.

Which Kramer solutions do you find the most promising in the European region?

PB: The growth in networked solutions continues at a pace, and it is here – in the AVoIP space – that Kramer is utilizing its expertise and experience. I come from a networked AV and UCC background and fully recognize the needs for an IT department to work in harmony with networked AV solutions. Kramer AVoIP solutions are not only designed for optimum end-user performance, but also are built with system integrators and IT managers in mind, with demands such as low bandwidth usage and network load being a prime concern.

RM: In Europe, Quicklaunch for Education is a standout Kramer solution. It simplifies the teaching process with easy sign-ins and instant launching of hybrid classes, making it ideal for educational institutions. Moreover, it offers a fast and secure way to manage meetings, regardless of the conferencing provider, and allows for easy customization to match branding requirements. Quicklaunch simplifies the teaching process for instructors. They can sign in once and effortlessly launch essential teaching software, take control of room devices, and commence hybrid classes with ease. This not only streamlines the teaching experience but also enhances classroom productivity. The time-saving aspect, with streamlined meeting processes and direct application usage, adds significant value for both education and business sectors in Europe.

Robert Methorst, Kramer’s EMEA Marketing Director

Your offerings are mainly focused on business, education, and healthcare solutions. What sets Kramer apart from the competition?

PB: I would clarify that by saying I don’t think there is a vertical market that does not benefit from Kramer solutions! If it is not a tried-and-trusted solution, there is usually a way in which our technology can be used to solve a challenge. A great example of exploring new frontiers is the recent case study from Kramer Nordics, where they designed a system for commercial fishing vessels, allowing the crew to access and monitor pertinent data and video from a variety of sources, such as radars, ECDIS, chart plotters, echo sounders, sonars, CCTV camera systems, and alarm and control systems. 

RM: At sets Kramer apart from the competition is our remarkable breadth of products, decades of invaluable experience, and our position as innovation leaders in the AVpro industry.

Firstly, our breadth of products is unparalleled. We offer a comprehensive range of solutions catering to businesses, educational institutions, and healthcare providers. Whether it’s AV equipment for corporate boardrooms, cutting-edge classroom technology, or specialized healthcare AV solutions, we have it covered. This breadth allows us to address diverse customer needs with precision.

Our decades of experience in the AV industry provide a strong foundation. With a long history of successfully serving our clients, we have honed our expertise and gained deep insights into the evolving needs of our target sectors. This extensive experience translates into a level of trust and reliability that few can match.

Moreover, innovation is at the core of our identity. We are recognized as innovation leaders in the AVpro field, constantly pushing the boundaries of what’s possible. Our commitment to staying ahead of the technological curve ensures that our customers receive state-of-the-art solutions that drive efficiency, productivity, and performance. This innovation-driven approach keeps us at the forefront of the industry and gives our clients a competitive edge.

In summary, it’s the combination of our extensive product portfolio, decades of experience, and our status as innovation leaders in AVpro that truly sets Kramer apart from the competition. We offer not just solutions but a legacy of excellence that our clients can rely on.

Could you elaborate on the sales structure and the technical support available in the EMEA market?

PB: As mentioned, we have fortified our EMEA team across the board as we aim to provide the ultimate service to our customers. In the past couple of months alone, we have strengthened our DACH offering with a highly experienced area manager in Gerrit Lipgens, along with former Samsung man Marco Widmann to support technical sales. Our marketing team has been reinforced in the past weeks with an events manager and marketing manager to support Robert with his recent success. Robert is right when he says there is no substitute for local knowledge and, wherever possible, we aim to grow our EMEA presence with people who know the nuances of their territory, along with their technology.

RM: In EMEA, we’ve strengthened our sales team with experienced professionals who understand the region’s dynamics. They play a pivotal role in tailoring solutions to meet the unique needs of customers in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa.

We also emphasize alignment between marketing and sales. This collaboration ensures that our marketing strategies align with sales goals, effectively reaching our audience and conveying our solutions’ value.

Additionally, our commitment to technical support is unwavering. Our team provides prompt assistance for queries, troubleshooting, and technical needs, ensuring a seamless experience. We prioritize customer satisfaction and ongoing post-purchase support.

In summary, our EMEA sales team brings local expertise, aligning marketing and sales efforts, while our robust technical support guarantees customers receive exceptional service to maximize their AV solutions’ value.

What benefits have you and your customers gained from opening the new HQ in Amsterdam? Has the contact with EU-based integrators become more personalized?

PB: In a word, yes. By having a key European presence, it allows us to offer a more intimate relationship with our customers. Our regional offices now report directly to Amsterdam, which can help to streamline decision making as well as relieve some pressure on Israel operations. Initial feedback from our customers is that they prefer this personable presence. It’s no secret that people do business with people, and having these people more local to each other brings benefits in the way of language, customs and all the nuances that make for harmonious business relationships.

RM: Absolutely, the opening of our new HQ in Amsterdam has greatly benefited both Kramer and our customers. This central hub has enabled a more intimate and personalized relationship with our European customers. By having regional offices report directly to Amsterdam, we’ve streamlined decision-making and enhanced responsiveness. The feedback from our customers reinforces the value of this approach, as it fosters stronger connections, considering factors like language, customs, and nuanced business relationships. In essence, our Amsterdam HQ serves as a central European hub, facilitating operational efficiency and deeper customer engagement in the EU.

Could you provide insights into the R&D and production process at Kramer?

PB: Kramer have decades of experience in developing world ‘firsts’ in Audio Visual, but our R&D team have been setting new standards with the continued adoption of networked solutions. I mentioned earlier how our focus is on customer needs, and it is this which, essentially, drives R&D and what is around the corner. By listening to our customers, we get a comprehensive understanding of what they want from their technology. If that technology does not exist, that can often be the initial step in the development of a new solution. The AVoIP space is amplifying this like never before. Software enhancements are a constant focus for our team and, with the accelerated rise of AI and remote management, it is a very, very busy department!

What challenges and opportunities do you foresee in the European market in the near future?

PB: The industry as a whole is now taking sustainability as a serious focus, which is fantastic and will continue to benefit all as we move forward. As mentioned, the incredible growth of Artificial Intelligence will come increasingly into play with networked solutions and you can be sure that Kramer will be at the leading edge of innovation is how to best utilize this technology as it develops.

User experience is fast becoming the key deciding factor when selecting new technologies and the main driver when it comes to technological preference. A classroom with great technology and average user experience no longer prevails over one offering great user experience, even if the technology is average.

To provide real value to users, every aspect of every product in an AV environment needs to be scrutinized through the prism of user experience. Companies that manage to harness the true nature of user experience will lead the industry going forward – watch this space!

RM: Certainly, in the European market’s near future, we see significant opportunities in sustainability, driven by the industry’s growing focus on eco-conscious practices. Our commitment to innovation positions us to leverage the potential of Artificial Intelligence in networked solutions.

User experience is a key determinant in technology selection, where exceptional experiences now take precedence. Companies excelling in user experience will lead the industry.

However, economic disparities between nations and infrastructure challenges are real concerns. Addressing these issues proactively will be essential for sustained success in the European market.

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