Vancouver’s Radial Engineering: An exporter to the global music scene

Vancouver’s Radial Engineering: An exporter to the global music scene

There are more than 600 names on Radial Engineering’s client list ranging alphabetically from super stars AC/DC and Adele to U2 and Zev Katz, who has recorded with celebrity acts such as Roxy Music, Bette Midler and Elvis Costello. In between, the list reads like a Who’s Who of the global music scene and confirms Vancouver-based Radial’s position as one of the world’s most respected suppliers of professional audio products.

Radial ships more than 90,000 electronic items and hundreds of thousands of square feet of sound-absorbing acoustic panels to customers in more than 70 countries worldwide each year. The company’s brands are household names to music industry professionals — Radial, Tonebone, Primacoustic, Reamp, Hafler — and are offered through a network of dealers and distributors that span the globe.

President and CEO Peter Janis established Radial in 1991 and incorporated in 1992 as JP CableTek Electronics Ltd. The Radial brand was originally developed for a range of cable products, but was extended in 1996 to include the company’s first direct box, a piece of equipment typically used in recording studios and live touring.

Janis says the key to Radial’s success is quality construction, exceptional audio performance and superb customer service.

“We have wonderful relationships with the many artists that use Radial in the studio or as part of their live touring rigs,” he says.

Music has been part of Janis’ life since he was a young boy. He started playing the piano at age seven and the guitar when he was 14. At 16 he was playing in local bands and, much to his parents’ dismay, set his sights on being a rock star. In 1976 he got a job at Steve’s Music Store in Montreal and developed a keen interest in sound equipment — and the journey to Radial was firmly on track with stops along the way as a full-time musician and a 10-year stint as Fender’s Canadian product manager.

Janis says he first started thinking about getting into the export market in about 1996.

“We could see the writing on the wall with the internet coming and grey marketing being unstoppable. This made distribution of other manufacturers’ products – our first business – one that would be a dead end,” he says. “So we began developing our own products and things really started to pick up for exports into the U.S. in around 2001 and to other international markets in the following years.”

The U.S. is Radial’s top export market with 59 per cent of total sales, followed by Europe at 13 per cent. Approximately 15 per cent of sales are in Canada and the rest in markets around the world.

“Anywhere that people enjoy concerts or record music is a target audience,” adds Janis.

He admits that starting out in exports was daunting. The biggest challenge was developing confidence.

“Until you see results, there is always going to be some doubt in your mind,” says Janis. “Second to that is finding the better distributors. It’s relatively easy to sign up with a small distributor, but those guys often don’t have the finances to place larger orders. So it’s slow to get started. Eventually, once the brand gains some market awareness, you are then forced to make changes to get into bed with the bigger guys. This is a double-edged sword. They have more demands and are often overloaded with brands, so you are stuck trying to get your fair share of time and attention with them.”

While the U.S. is by far Radial’s biggest export target simply because it is the world’s biggest active recording and concert market, Janis believes Europe and Asia present the best opportunities for growing Radial’s exports.

“Europe is in a slump right now due to economic slowdown, migrants and of course problems such as France and the UK exit, but this will eventually settle back to normal,” he says. “Asia is slow due to China’s overgrowth from the past decade. There has not really been any global economic upswing since the slowdown in 2009, but I’m confident that when the U.S. economy starts to move again, the rest of the world will prosper.”

Get more exporting insights from Peter Janis here.

Categories Exporting

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