Merger brings audio companies into digital signage video game

Getting into the digital signage business on the vendor/supplier side these days involves getting up a learning curve and figuring out how what you have stands out in a really crowded marketplace. It helps, a bunch, if you have well established clients for other, reasonably related stuff.

That’s why news of another company – actually two becoming one – entering the sector did not fully set my eyes rolling when news turned up in my Inbox.

Joining forces to form one of the top providers in the audio-video marketing industry, Audio Messaging Solutions, LLC (AMS) today announced that it has merged with IOHI (Impressions On Hold), creating one of the nation’s leading companies in the telephone on-hold messaging business.

The new company combines the audio marketing skills of AMS with the expertise of IOHI, which delivers solutions for on-hold messaging, IVR prompts, overhead music and digital signage. AMS has now evolved from primarily producing and recording on-hold phone messages to having the ability to create and deliver multimedia marketing solutions that cover all client touch points.

“We are pleased to combine our talents and strengths, which we expect will continue a record of growth that has defied the economy,” said Aaron Kleinhandler, Chief Executive Officer of AMS. Under his leadership, AMS has grown its revenues tenfold in a six-year period, fueled by 11 acquisitions.

Some of the most notable additions to AMS’ product line include expanded audio services for phone systems, such as IVR prompts and automated attendant greetings; digital signage solutions for waiting areas, retail spaces and interactive kiosk applications; public space music and location-specific “storecast” messaging; multimedia enhancements for the web; and custom video applications.

AMS appears to be the acquirer and IOHI the acquired in this deal.

Current management of IOHI will become significant shareholders of AMS and serve in senior management positions in the combined company. Corporate headquarters are in Tampa, while creative and customer operations remain in Tulsa, Okla.

The new company, which will announce a new name and brand this fall, combines a high level of personal service with the proficiency that comes with providing multimedia branding for national companies like Pep Boys, LabCorp, Regions Bank, Goodyear, Terminix, Raymond James Financial and Papa John’s Pizza. A major competitive advantage is the company’s in-house production and service capabilities, which provide outstanding products, turn-key implementation and exceptional value.

Combined, the new company has solutions in approximately 40,000 U.S. office and retail locations, from on-hold phone messaging to programming for in-store audio and digital signage. The merger of the two privately held companies, finalized in late June, creates an organization with 72 employees and approximately $17 million of annual revenues, 80% of which is recurring in nature. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

AMS says it has access to a $10 million acquisition line of credit and is shopping.

The established client base thing doesn’t always help. Consider the first runs at digital signage by Muzak, which has piles and piles of clients but got no traction (that’s changing under Mood Media). But already being an approved, trusted  supplier, in a client’s financial system, is a definite leg up if what the company has to offer is solid. The challenge, particularly on the AMS side, is learning to advise on and sell something that is really different from audio messaging and background music.