The 411 on Area Four Industries

by Nick Radar
in Company 411
From left, Eric Lawrence, Tim Waterman, Carman Savarese and Franti Zykan
From left, Eric Lawrence, Tim Waterman, Carman Savarese and Franti Zykan

When Area Four Industries America Distribution Company opened its new distribution facility in Knoxville, TN in November 2016, it marked a key milestone in CEO Franti Zykan’s vision of blazing a new trail in the truss and support structure industry.

 

The facility serves as the U.S. home base for the six brands that are under the Area Four Industries distribution umbrella. These include Milos, Litec, EXE Technology, Mobiltechlifts, Xstage and Xtruss.

“America is a strategic market for us, one where we do not want to have third parties distributing our six brands,” said Tim Waterman, CFO for the American distribution office.

Besides Zykan and Waterman, there are four other key employees based at Area Four Industries America offices: sales and marketing director Carman Savarese, sales manager Eric Lawrence, warehouse foreman Jeff Laton and accounting manager Jenni Keeler, who also handles all e-commerce. (Along with the company website, at areafourindustries.us, Area Four also markets its products via an Amazon store and B&H’s website,
bhphotovideo.com.)

The 8,000-square-foot facility Area Four Industries maintains in Knoxville houses the distributor’s front office, warehouse and loading docks, from which they sell and distribute all six brands of products.

“It is very important that we continue to make a clear distinction between the six different brands and make our customers aware these six different entities remain true to their original manufacturing specialties,” said Savarese. “There is no real competition between these companies as each manufactures a specific type of product. For Milos and Litec, they’re commonality is that they are truss manufacturers. EXE Technology, Mobiltechlifts, Xstage and Xtruss are all specialists in their product category.

“Taken all together, the six brands we offer cover an extremely wide spectrum of needs,” Savarese added.

EXE D8 500kg hoist

‡‡         “You Know What. We Know How.”

Savarese noted that Area Four Industries’ tagline, “You know what. We know how,” best describes Area Four Industries America’s role in the market. “We talk with people that know exactly what they want to achieve, but don’t know how to make it. This is where Area Four Industries America provides a service that nobody else is able to offer.”

She cited a recent government RFP for a project in the Middle East as a case in point. “We are able to supply the structure, rigging elements and hoists. The only portion Area Four industries America had to outsource was automation, unlike the competitors who lost the bid because they had to rely on multiple companies to fulfill the list of requirements.”

“We also provide an exclusive technical sales service, where our experts, software, modern technology (like 3D printing), designers and structural engineers assist customers with their purchase and help guide them through all stages of implementation of their project,” Savarese added. “We answer all of their questions and even propose concrete solutions to their abstract ideas. Our goal is to always help our customers solve safety, compatibility, statics, technical options and other complex aspects of their installation or project.”

Company CFO Tim Waterman agreed. “The culture we nourish is pre- and post-sales technical support to our customers,” he added.

EXE stackable STK52R300 truss

‡‡         Six Brands for a Wide Range of Needs

Each of the six lines of products Area Four Industries America distributes is expanding with new, unique new products as the company strives to provide customers with safer, more efficient, cost effective solutions.

The EXE hoist sold by Area Four Industries America is a good case in point. Savarese began development for EXE in 2008, working with a small manufacturing company in Northern Italy. “We tried to fix all the small issues that everybody else was having with hoists. It was built to exceed every regulation requirement in the British standards,” she said, adding that the hoist was very well received when it was launched at Prolight + Sound in Frankfurt in 2009.

When she joined Litec, Savarese brought the EXE and the small manufacturer to their attention. At that time, Litec was looking for a hoist to expand their product line. Litec applied their accumulated knowledge of rigging and automation to the features of the hoist, and within three months, they reintroduced the renamed EXE-Rise to Prolight +Sound in 2015. In short order, PRG Europe made the first large investment for delivery of 800 units. Area Four Industries America is expected to have that hoist available in their Knoxville facility this month.

Another development by EXE is the Dynamic Stack Tracks (DST) trolley system. The system can be used in various applications to move or lift LED screens, scenery and projection screens and has a turning radius of 360 degrees.

In addition to its hoist and DST range, EXE Technology also manufactures drive controllers and cell interfaces, which monitor load weights in real time during all rigging operations.

Area Four Industries America’s Knoxville facility, as noted, is also the distributor for Milos and Litec truss products. The Milos brand is known for high quality aluminum truss, stage systems and support structures for small-to- large projects.

On the market since 2001, Milos products are also known for the impressive degree with which its truss products are compatible with connection systems from the most popular manufacturers. That lets its customers continue using their current truss inventory. Milos also introduced many product innovations this year, and the company is focused on consistent, intensive development of its products for the long term.

Litec provides a second source of truss for Area Four Industries America customers. It manufactures high quality truss and components known for combining superb craftsmanship with a modern, stylish design for a wide range of projects. Featuring an iconic plate system with two alternative connection systems, these products promise greater twist resistance, minimal eccentricity and absolute compatibility between trusses. Litec’s design specialists and experts are devoted to creating innovative, custom solutions for a wide array of projects, while its industry-leading R&D Department constantly improves the function of its truss components and structures for a broad array of applications.

An example of this is Litec’s new MyT Folding Steroid Truss System. The heavy-duty truss is made of high performance aluminum alloy that is designed to undergo virtually no bending at maximum load, which lets it handle high load capacity with longer spans. A unique feature of this system is its removable diagonals, which allows the truss section to quickly and efficiently fold to about one-third of its width. A three-meter section, for example, can be folded and stored by one person in less than three minutes.

Mobiltechlifts, a new brand on the market, is another line of products available through Milos and distributed by the Area Four Industries America office. Mobiltechlifts manufactures a range of telescopic, line array and multi-purpose lifts certified in accordance with the latest safety standards, which include a 5° incline load test. With the newly established German standards for wind-up lifts in hand, Mobiletechlifts, has also come up with a new safety design. These TÜV and BGV C1 certified telescopic lifts promise industry-leading durability, top levels of safety and unmatched user-friendliness.

EXE Dynamic Stack Track (DST), with all equipment attached.

‡‡         Business Unusual

Savarese emphasizes Zykan’s directive when establishing the global concept of Area Four Industries as she helps launch Area Four Industries America. “It is very important to us that people get the clear message that nothing is changing in the DNA of each manufacturer we distribute. The way they do business, the way each manufactures their products, and the relationship each has with their customers remains the same. It is just that now under the umbrella banner of Area Four Industries; all customers will have better access to the entire spectrum of products with new innovations on the way.”

It’s important to note that Area Four Industries does not manufacture anything. Operationally, each brand within the group is independent in their manufacturing processes. In fact, the group has manufacturing plants on three continents. “After all, Franti purchased these companies because they have a long history and proven track record at being the best at what each one does,” says Savarese. Seeking to have all them fit into one mold would effectively deny the properties that made them successful, which would not only destroy the morale of the employees behind each brand but dilute the quality of each brand, neither of which anybody wants.

The Area Four Industries designation stands above the six separate brands in order to empower each brands DNA, expertise and experience. Tomcat and James Thomas Engineering, although located in the same office building in Knoxville, operate separately from the Area Four Industries America office and are selling/distributing their products themselves in the American market. Globally, however, Area Four Industries distribution centers include the Tomcat and JTE brands.

Savarese has seen firsthand Area Four Industries take shape. “When I first met Franti, he told me that he had a very definite vision of where he was going with these purchases. Specifically, he thought about certain companies that could join his range of products to provide a wider service to the industry. Everything was very clear to him. What he has accomplished in putting these brands together is the experience from all the different parts of the world and elevation of the truss business to a completely different level than what anyone has experienced until now.”

More details at www.areafourindustries.us