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Adtran to double the number of its major VARs

Networking company wants to dramatically increase its presence here

An American manufacturer of networking gear intends to dramatically increase the number of its Canadian partners as it overhauls its channel program.

“We’re planning on expanding significantly,” said Paris Arey, vice-president of international sales at Adtran Inc., a Huntsville, Ala., company that makes NetVanta routers and switches for carriers to small businesses.

The publicly-traded company with annual sales of over US$500 million wants to grow substantially and to do that will need to increase the number of partners, he said. The plan is to start here. Over 90 per cent of its revenues comes through the channel.

Only a small amount of that comes from Canada now, he said. But “by 2010 I expect Canada to be seven to eight per cent of Adtran’s total worldwide revenues.”

He chose Canada to start his growth spurt in part because the country is similar to the U.S., he said. “If you’re looking to expand, Canada is a fantastic place to start,” he said.

So far the company has four ADvantage Plus partners (its top level, formerly called gold), which Arey wants to see increase to as many as 30, and 15 second-tier Advantage partners (formerly called silver), which Arey would like to double. VARs in these two categories have to pass a certain number of sales and technical certifications and have to meet sales volume requirements.

There are also an estimated 200 registered partners who are uncertified but can buy hardware. Arey hopes to convert a number of them to be certified partners.

What Adtran offers potential partners is a company that is profitable, has a solid financial history, has innovative products for small and mid-sized businesses and significant carrier offerings and a partner program that supports its VARs, he said.

As part of the expansion, the partner program – which is only a year old — will be honed over the next 12 months to put less of an emphasis on certifications and more on what VARs are willing to do, such as sell professional services or create Adtran-related applications.

“We’re going through a deep dive evaluation of our program that supports our desire to expand and differentiate ourselves,” he said, “not only from the technology we sell but also the way we work with partners.”

He said is aiming for a program that “considers the value partners bring to the table” and rewards them accordingly.

While Adtran has been selling here for the past three years, it hasn’t been waiting to expand here. Over the past 12 months the staff at its Montreal and Toronto offices has doubled to 12, Arey said. As a result Canadian revenues have grown 150 per cent, although he didn’t divulge dollar figures.

He said he will continue to invest in Canada at a rate to be able to achieve his 2010 goal.

Earlier this month Adran reported third quarter sales of US$132.6 million, compared to US$149 million for the same period a year ago. Net income was US$24 million on a GAAP basis.