PocketWizard shifts to direct-to-dealer model for US market

PocketWizard has become its own distributor in the USA, ending a 14-year deal with MAC Group.

PocketWizard/LPA Design, the American radio trigger manufacturer, has ended its partnership with MAC Group to become its own distributor in the USA. The Burlington, Vermont company last month informed retailers of the move to a direct-to-dealer sales model in a letter — anonymously forwarded to Lighting Rumours.

The change of strategy comes a month after another high-profile lighting brand — Swiss lighting maker Elinchrom — took on MAC Group as its US distributor. The group has handled PocketWizard’s US operations for some 14 years. Just last week they also announced an international partnership with Phottix, the Chinese accessory maker (and historically a PocketWizard rival).

PocketWizard's headquarters in South Burlington, Vermont

In the letter, Tim Ambrose, general manager at PocketWizard, explained the decision: “[I]n order for us to move forward and grow market share we need the ability to work directly with our dealers. This provides the opportunity to gain a better understanding of the photo market and the consumer, and gather intelligence for faster product development based on the changing needs of today’s image maker.”

According to the leaked letter, future PocketWizard business plans include “promotional pricing”, improved technical support, new products and “direct mutual marketing initiatives”.

MAC Group told Lighting Rumours in a statement:

“As of July 10, MAC Group and PocketWizard have parted ways after 14 years together. We enjoyed a great run together and wish them the best of luck as they explore their new direct to dealer business model. We wish the entire team at PocketWizard nothing but success in their future endeavors.

“As for MAC Group, we also believe in changing to meet the needs of you, our valued dealers and your image-maker customers as they grow and evolve. There will be many exciting announcements to come from us as we continue to partner with the best and most innovative brands around the world to provide the very best products to our customers.”

Update: PocketWizard has issued a press release announcing the company “has realized the need to get closer to the photographer and has started selling direct to USA dealers”. Heather Ambrose, LPA Design’s marketing manager, said:

“As we transition to our new sales and marketing approach, we are excited by the possibilities of working more directly with our Dealers and building closer relationships with the community of PocketWizard photographers. We’re exploring the means to hear and respond to our customers in a more direct and informative way. We’ve already heard some comments and suggestions, and are making changes that will offer a range of mutual long term benefits. We’ve had a great partnership with the MAC Group over the past 14 years, as they’ve been integral in building the PocketWizard brand in the US market. We wish them continued success in the future.”

The firm also announced that Lorenzo Gasperini, who was until a year ago international sales and marketing consultant, has been re-hired as national sales manager.

The developments in the US do not affect the UK market, where PocketWizard products are distributed by Johnsons Photopia, an independent company.

In April, PocketWizard opened an online store for direct sales to USA-based customers. To find a dealer near you, visit the PocketWizard web site.

David Selby
Based in Paris, France, David Selby is editor of Lighting Rumours, a part-time photographer and a quantitative analyst.
selbydavid.com