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AED has spring in step

The pro-audio equipment giant leaps into Q2 with bigger facilities in Germany, a major investment in gear, and heartening news regarding last year’s costly warehouse fire in Belgium.

It’s been a productive first quarter for self-styled ‘material banker’ AED. Last month, AED Rent Germany opened a facility in Bannberscheid near Koblenz, quadrupling its storage capacity, as AED Rent UK launched its own distribution department.

The parent AED Group has ramped up for the summer season with several notable investments in cutting-edge PA kit, and reports that its Belgian facilities, gutted by an inferno last November, are being rebuilt.
After more than a year of building, AED Rent Germany has moved out of its old Montabaur location. A footprint of 6,700 sqm increases storage space fourfold for the GmbH arm, which now offers audio, lighting and video equipment for professionals.

“With increasing demand, moving to a new building was crucial,” says Alexander Kexel (pictured), managing director of AED Rent/Display GmbH. “Before the expansion, we had to order much extra gear from the Belgium headquarters – the extra room will allow us shorter delivery times.”
The Bannberscheid building was based on an identical concept to the one in Belgium: a double floor warehouse with two equipment elevators, five loading docks and a huge parking lot. “Finally we have the working space to lift AED Group’s activities, as a total solution provider, beyond the traditional dry-hire pattern,” adds Kexel.

“In the same move, we added the AED Store, and, as from April, the new AED Secondhand Trader Platform, where rental companies can sell their second-hand kit following the ‘Bring it-Price it-Sell it’ principle, allowing them to optimise their rental inventory, warehouse capacity and cash rental flow.”
As from last month, AED Distribution UK is now operational. Based at the existing premises in High Wycombe, and backed by professional logistics and order processing within the AED Group, AED Distribution will be offering a wide range of entertainment technology brands for professional rigging, trussing and lighting needs.
“This is a very exciting opportunity to join AED Distribution, and to offer a total sales solution that reflects what customers need in today’s ever-changing market,” says David March, formerly with Philips Vari-Lite, newly appointed to run the venture.
AED Rent in Belgium has once again increased its inventory, this time purchasing Soundcraft Si Performer 2 mixers and desks from Yamaha’s new compact range.
“We’ve invested in Yamaha CL3 and CL5 digital consoles,” explains Piet Verstraete, sound engineer and account manager with AED Rent. “This is just a start: the desks have been continuously on the road since we took delivery. And just like the PM5D, [they ’re] very reliable.”
With the addition of a number of Sennheiser Digital 9000 series systems, AED Rent is also eyeing major theatre productions – the sets were being built in racks at press time to be ready by the end of April.

“The key issue here is the absolute low signal/noise ratio, essential when using many channels in a theatre, we will invest in extra Sennheiser 9000 systems as soon as demands rise.” adds Verstraete.
As for loudspeaker cabinets, AED Rent took delivery of 150 L-Acoustics 5XT coaxial speakers for use as front-fill, monitors or trussing applications. “In addition we’ve augmented our KARA ara speaker inventory with 72 units adding up to 375 units in total plus 48 12XT monitor speakers from which we now have 160 cabinets all told, for use throughout our AED companies,” Verstraete concludes.
Meanwhile, the rebuilding work in Willebroek, where both the AED New Stock warehouse and the AED Cases factory were hit by a firestorm on 4 November, is progressing rapidly, with the likely prospect are that both will be operational by the summer.

“Two days after the fire broke loose we transferred our new stock materials in our warehouses abroad. As for the Cases division, where we lost some 500 new flightcases, we found a solution in the combination of a wood supply company and the employment section of the Louvain prison,” reveals Glenn Roggeman, CEO of AED Group.
“The prison management is renting us a 1,000sqm factory for our new machinery where 20 inmates assemble the flightcases. Four weeks after the fire, we managed to produce 300 new flightcases for our equipment – at press time some 1,500 cases are assembled,” he explains, underlining that in the aftermath of the fire disaster, none of AED’s workers had to be discharged or made temporily unemployed.

Story: Marc Maes