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Exclusive interview with Glen Rhodes from AOne

Here at KitGuru, we spend almost all of our time on testing new products that are just arriving in the market. That gives you, the reader, an idea of what to buy – but how does the product get in your local/preferred store?  Finding the cool products and  bringing them through the channel so we can buy them off the shelf is the work of distributors like AOne. We managed to catch up with purchasing guru Glen Rhodes to find out more.

Great opportunity to see how the world looks from the perspective of the people who need to try and use their Crystal-Tech-Balls to predict what we will want to buy, in volume, before we’ve even seen the product.

KG: OK Glen, tell us a bit about AOne – what do they do, where are they based and which products have you brought to market?
Glen: AOne are the UK’s biggest Case and PSU importer & distributor. We’ve been around since 1991 where we started in a small retail shop, and grown steadily to where we are today, in a 3 story textile mill in Bury that’s close to 200 years old. Our main strength is our experience of importing products from China, where we have some very good relationships with large production factories, allowing us to create several strong OEM brands within the UK channel.

KG: Come on Glen, spill the beans, give us specifics
Glen: We have exclusive distribution agreements with the likes of Aerocool and In-Win, as well as strong distribution relationships with brands such as Gigabyte and FSP – as well as a new relationship with Antec that’s going really well.

KG: So pretty specialist?
Glen: We work closely with our customers to effectively source and provide products to meet their requirements, and as a result we have a good base of loyal customers, who have helped to put us in the strong position we are today.

KG: How many products do they carry overall?
Glen: At the moment we carry around 900 products, with the vast majority being Cases, PSUs, Speakers and Peripherals. We prefer to concentrate on our strengths and our customers know that. We do have some exciting projects in the pipeline for 2014.

KG: Go on…
Glen: Well it will be for several exclusive products, that cannot be bought anywhere else. Sorry, can’t say more than that. Watch this space.

Glen was keeping quiet about his weekend hobbies
Glen was keeping quiet about his weekend hobbies

KG: Back in the day, there were a lot of Aerocool front panels in the market, but then things went quiet for a while. Recently, we’re hearing a lot more about them. What’s changed?
Glen: Aerocool have had an extremely good 2013. They have a great team working very hard over in Taiwan to increase the presence and product range, in particular the owner Tony Lin, as well as our account manager Jerry and Michael, their marketing expert. Aerocool has made some massive leaps forward in product offering this year too, the foremost of which is the already very successful Dead Silence Cube series. I know that myself and A One have also worked very hard to push the brand in the UK Channel, and we can now see this hard work paying off.

We can see the popularity of Aerocool growing even further in 2014, with some exciting products being like Aerocool’s amazing fans. I’m confident that several of these products will be every bit as popular as the DS Cube has been, and we’ll keep sending them into KitGuru in the hope of scooping another top award!

KG: What is the coolest product in your current line-up?
Glen: It’s a hard choice, I think every brand we do has a great and unique product to offer. If I had to make a snap decision I would say it’s a tough pick between the aforementioned Aerocool Dead Silence Cube, the new Antec Kuhler Watercooling range or the Noontec Hammo Over-Ear Headphones, which I personally own a pair of and think for the cost are amazing value [They went down well in KitGuru’s Lab, which you can read here – Ed]

KG: We have seen research from Jon Peddie that while the overall desktop market will be very weak for the next 3 years, the high end/enthusiast sectors are likely to boom – do you agree?
Glen: Absolutely. Our bestselling cases at the moment are entry to mid-level gaming, plus our high end gaming cases demand is stronger than ever. On the other hand, we’ve seen a decline in business style ATX cases to a point where we’ve reduced the range we offer compared to a few years ago. Strangely, our business Micro-ATX and slim desktop cases are still going strong, so it’s something of a mixed bag. We generally see the trends happening in advance, so we like to think we’re quick to move with the channel’s requirements to make sure we’re supplying the products our customers need.

KG: Anything we should be looking for over the next year or so?
Glen: Without giving too much away and getting my butt kicked, I’ll say look out for Aerocool’s next product in the Dead Silence line, along with a pretty exciting new case in the Strike-X series due early 2014. We’ve got an exclusive product from Gigabyte that will arrive next month that I know will offer a very attractive sales opportunity to the channel. I’d also say keep an eye out for new products from Antec, they’ve been quiet on that front over the past year or so, but they’ve now got some great products coming into the market which I’m sure will put them right back in the mix.

Enough work talk in the run up to Xmas, we wanted to know more about what makes Glen tick as a person.

To help open him up, we used our trusty list of ‘KitGuru Standard Questions’…

How long ago did you join AOne and what were you doing before?
I’ve been at AOne for over 2 and a half years now. Previous to this I was at another distributor, Target Components where I started my career in the IT industry in 2006. Both companies are/were great to work for and I appreciate having the opportunity to work at them both.

What was your first PC?
My first PC was bought for me by my grandparents from Tiny (remember them?) I think it was a Pentium 3 450MHz with a 13GB HDD, 256MB of ram and no VGA card, which was partially intentional as it was supposed to be for school work. I think I went to Game and bought a Voodoo 5 for it with my Xmas money so I could play Unreal Tournament at something approaching decent frame rates! I also loved the fact you could get old SNES and Mega Drive emulators for it and spent hours replaying some classics, not quite what my grandparents intended I think!

If you were driving down the Pacific Highway, which car would you be in, what would be on the radio and which famous person would be sitting next to you?
For the car, it would have to be a Mercedes SLS AMG, love everything about them. Music wise it would have to be Metal or Rock, something like AC/DC or Pantera. Famous person, either Bryan Cranston or Miley Cyrus, one of which could help me to become an underworld drug kingpin, and the other was brilliant in Breaking Bad!

If you need to impress someone – what do you cook – what is your best dish?
Nothing too extravagant as I don’t have the patience. I’ve made some pretty nice BBQ pulled pork before, and I can cook a good chilli! I occasionally dabble with new recipes with mixed results.

What food do you love, that you cannot cook, so you MUST go to a restaurant for it?
There’s a burger joint (or was) in Manchester called Almost Famous (it burnt down and they’ve not reopened it yet). Near enough the best burgers I’ve had pretty much. They still serve them in the Mexican place next door called Luck, Lust, Liquor and Burn. Check it out, that’s pretty awesome too.

If you could invent anything – what would it be?
The obvious answer would be Google, but for something that’s not been invented yet, has to be teleportation, delivery lead-times would be a thing of the past, plus a day trip to Orlando or Hong Kong would be great.

Glen's chauffeur chills outside Almost Famous while the man himself goes in for a quick burger
Glen’s chauffeur chills outside Almost Famous while the man himself goes in for a quick burger

KitGuru says: Great speaking with Glen and we’re now looking forward to more Aerocool Dark Silence goodness for 2014. Glen has been a vocal proponent of ‘AC/DC for Xmas Number One’, so we linked up the band’s name to the campaign!

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