Company profile: NMK Electronics
Company profile: NMK Electronics
2020 was a busy year for NMK Electronics, with the company founder stepping down, new ownership with Midwich and a new management structure. Simon Luckhurst finds out more
In Dubai, everything changes. As one of the older audiovisual distribution companies serving the GCC, NMK Electronics has witnessed a great deal of that change throughout its 33-year history, but nothing quite like what 2020 presented. Companies frequently come and go, spotting a market opportunity but failing to back that up with a solid core business. Nothing ever remains the same, and the pace is unforgiving. Companies like NMK are one of the reasons the newcomers often don’t last long.
Very few have managed to step outside of the chaos and build firm foundations of their own. Established by Nicolas M Kyvernitis in his name back in September 1987, NMK Electronics has been a pioneer on the ground and evolved greatly over the years. Having become involved in the hi-fi market in the 1980s following a career change, Kyvernitis was one of the few people to have identified a budding professional audio market in Dubai and quickly seized the opportunity by setting up business in neighbouring Sharjah. With the exception of his wife Christina, who has also played a central role in supporting the business throughout its lifetime and as operations manager, the early days were very much a one-man show, with the founder singlehandedly driving rentals, installations and sales across the Emirate.
As the country’s thirst for live music exploded and the market started to mature in the years that followed, a wave of large technical production companies arrived on the scene. Setting up a new market free zone in 2010, NMK’s Dubai-based operations quickly matured to follow suit as the company expanded into neighbouring territories such as Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman and Saudi Arabia, and focused less on the rental market in favour of distribution, fuelled by an increasing number of brands seeking a more consolidated regional distribution model. As local operations further developed, the distributor set up a dedicated office in Qatar under the name of Edge Electronics at the beginning of 2018, led by business development manager, Dino Drimakis.
“The goal of our office in Qatar was to copy/paste what NMK was doing in Dubai. Replicated with a smaller micro-team but providing a fully fledged operation with regards to service, after-sales support, commercial support, order, logistics – everything in-house,” explains Drimakis.
Joining NMK in 2014, Drimakis was initially tasked with diversifying NMK’s portfolio away from pure audio brands – which over the years has included everything in the AV realm – and into a more solutions-centric approach. It’s a path that has paid dividends and today the company is proud to boast 50 employees and an enviable portfolio of more than 25 leading AV brands covering various sectors, including the likes of Allen & Heath, Ampetronic, Avid, Ayrton, Bose, Clear-Com, Epson, Luminex, Shure and Williams Sound, among others.
But beyond great brands, NMK is most proud of what has so far been achieved with several aspects of the business, not least customer service and its role in developing the education market locally. “I’d like to praise ourselves for helping to develop the education market in the region and allowing engineers to upgrade their skillsets, as well as being a consistent and continuous company that cares first and foremost for our clients, and having a customer-centric approach towards the business,” says Drimakis. “We also feel it’s important to be a very honest and trustworthy partner, not getting into other businesses or competing with our clients in terms of installs or rentals, but instead always being there to provide value-added support to our partners.”
This certainly proved the right approach, with many of NMK’s partners and customers returning year after year to work with the team. “For most of our brands and also our vendors, these relationships are really embedded,” Drimakis adds. “We enjoy a very close relationship with our partners but it's something that's always been very organic. As a result, we’ve also enjoyed natural and healthy growth rather than big spikes and dips.”
This customer-centric mindset translated into a proactive reaction to the complete loss of business in April 2020 when coronavirus shut the country down. Unable to invite students to in-person sessions at the NMK Academy, the distributor was one of the first to set up a digital equivalent, while Drimakis led the industry in a series of thoughtful “Post-Covid” panel discussions on the future of our business. Nevertheless, despite the events of the recent months, NMK is making a bold decision to forge a new path in 2021. Having announced their retirement alongside news that Midwich had acquired a majority stake in the business at the end of 2020, Nicolas and Christina Kyvernitis are handing over control of NMK to the next generation.
The new management structure sees Drimakis take charge of the commercial aspects of the business, while Kemanes will serve as managing director once Kyvernitis officially steps down. “I will take care of the vendors, communication and supporting clients with technical expertise, which I've kind of embedded in myself throughout all the years of being in the industry, building those relationships and those support systems,” says Drimakis. “Alex will take care of the management side as MD, involved in driving the backbone of the company, which is the finance, the operations, the development and the overall picture. There are other companies in the group that Mr Nicolas can now focus his attention on and he’s been able to hand NMK over to a company that has a great reputation in the market, great ethics and has a very good support arm towards the market as well. As a company, they understand the value of people.”
“Both Dino and I feel that Midwich is sort of an extension of our arm, in the sense that we found in them just what we want in a partner,” adds Kemanes. “They're very strong operationally, and as a corporation they have a strategic vision which matches Dino’s and mine. So it was a good marriage and, if you look at the likes of Earpro or Sidev, they have a great track record and have all grown off the back of those acquisitions. Clearly they know what they are doing.”
Top of the list in this respect following the acquisition are plans to replicate NMK’s past success in Qatar with the opening of a Saudi Arabian office in 2021. “Obviously with Midwich, we now also have other regional aspirations regarding other territories, to develop a very similar copy/paste approach,” notes Drimakis.
Rather than a kneejerk response to troubled times, the negotiations between NMK and Midwich were initially due to be finalised back in March 2020 before more pressing matters became the priority. When the lockdown hit, the company entered a period of self-development by working to fix and enhance its existing processes.
“Ironically, 2020 wasn’t necessarily a bad year for us,” the commercial director shares. “We’ve always tried our best to be that consistent company and, regardless of the Midwich ownership or the constraints of the pandemic, we still support our clientele and vendors as much as we can. There was no financial hindrance whatsoever and I believe that we took the ethical and correct approach of maintaining the company by not letting people go.”
“It’s also a lot about adaptability,” furthers the MD. “These past 12 months, you really needed to change and refocus your business. The rental market was obviously down, so we had to shift the mindset of our rental guys into the fixed market and find bigger opportunities there. I think the takeaway from all of this is to be adaptable, to be able to adjust to the situation so that you stay strong to the vision. Our market will come back, that’s inevitable.”
Ever keen on a consistent approach, NMK’s continued success still lies in Kyvernitis’ original vision. “I think the DNA instilled in the company through Mr Nicolas’ 33 years has definitely been that of a push approach, a cook your own food approach. You can’t just sit around and wait for business to come along,” says Drimakis. “Most businesses will tell you that it’s the people that makes them. We’re lucky to have a very dynamic team of really responsible people, that are also caring about the company and its wellbeing. For us, it’s been as much about building a team over the years that is mature enough and adaptable enough to enhance the company and have an efficient mindset of developing it in the right manner.”
Despite new ownership, new management and perhaps even a few upcoming new surprises on the horizon, it’s still business as usual for NMK Electronics. Consistency in a world of rapid change can often be the key to success.