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Yesterday, The Music & Sound Retailer exclusively reported that Korg USA, as of January 1, will be the exclusive U.S. distributor of Dean Markley’s line of guitar strings, pickups, picks and polishing accessories. We now have additional details about this relationship, which transcends a simple distribution arrangement and, in fact, is really a long-term brand partnership. The Retailer spoke exclusively to Andy Rossi, Senior VP, Sales & Marketing, Korg USA, as well as John Weaver, Partner, Dean Markley USA, to gain further insight into why these two widely respected MI brands represent so effective a pairing.

Korg and Dean Markley “harmonize” with each other on three distinct levels: product categories, organizational strengths and relative to each company’s progressive, dealer-minded vision. “For decades, Korg has been a very successful seller of tuners,” Rossi remarked. “We deal with a thousand or more dealers, selling tuners and small goods at lower price points. We have a very effective sales effort in that segment.” He continued, “We were looking for an additional brand that had great brand equity and a strong history that would complement our tuner sales. When Dean Markley became available, we felt their combination of strings, pickups, cables and similar products would effectively complement our efforts in tuners.”

Of equal, or perhaps even greater, importance are the complementary organizational strengths of each company. “By outsourcing our sales and distribution domestically to a very elite and prominent company like Korg USA,” Weaver began, “it allows us to focus in on manufacturing, product management, product development and brand management. That’s where Dean Markley’s innovation has always been borne from.”

According to Rossi, the logistical support that Korg USA can bring to bear for the Dean Markley brand is the key. “Korg has an infrastructure that supports continuous supply, fast shipping and great before-, during- and after-sales support. This is an area we can really improve on for Dean Markley, and that will be a great benefit to the dealers and our end-user consumers.” He added, “We think that strength is going to work really well to increase their market penetration.”

Aside simply from product lines and organizational strengths that are complementary, though, one can’t overstate the importance of a shared vision of a sustainable, highly progressive music products industry built on brick-and-mortar dealers and that allows them to earn the hyper-competitive margins they need to compete and win. “Andy has a very good vision for the future: how things are going to work and how the channels are going to align,” Weaver commented. “It’s similar to my view, and it meshes very well with the views of our CEO, Lori McCallian.” He continued, “This isn’t just about ‘plugging and playing’ existing products into Korg. This is also about developing a brand over the next many years with a partner like Korg. Andy, [Korg USA President] Joe Castronovo, Lori and I all have a similar feeling about where we want to go in the future, and where the future will take us. That’s a huge part of why we did this.”

The full line of Dean Markley products slated for distribution will be on display at the NAMM show at Booth #6440 in Hall A.

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