Buffalo roams further north

For three years a small number of Canadian resellers have been quietly selling Buffalo Technology’s line of networking, storage and memory products for the small business, system builder and home markets.Imported only by special order from Tech Data Canada, sales were “minimal,” according to the manufacturer.
However, a push this year to increase its presence and sales has paid off.
The company said last month that Ingram Micro Canada and Tech Data Canada are now distributing its LinkStation and TeraStation network attached storage devices, AirStation routers and LinkTheatre wireless media players.
At the same time, it announced an updated channel program for Canada so it can sign up more resellers.
“They’ve demonstrated a strong commitment to the Canadian market,” said Ray Gonslaves, Tech Data Canada’s director of product marketing, in explaining why the distributor has signed up the manufacturer to a full distribution agreement.
“We’re seeing sales grow.”
He credited a marketing push from the manufacturer that has raised the number of resellers ordering Buffalo products from 20 to between 75 and 100.
While he wouldn’t give a dollar figure, he said the distributor now ships every month what it sold all of last year.

Broaden the mix
Martin Kalsbeek, vice-president and general manager of Ingram Micro Canada, said in a news release that the addition of the manufacturer helps broaden the distributor’s networking product mix.
Headquartered in Japan, Buffalo Technology made its North American beachhead in the United States. “Because of the success we’ve seen in the U.S., we made a move to expand into the Canadian marketplace,” said Richard Macklan, the company’s new Montreal-based Canadian sales manager.
The company has a number of competitors in this increasingly active wireless space, including D-Link, Cisco System’s Linksys division and 3Com.
Its reseller program has three levels:
• Gold partners are expected to sell between $25,000 and $50,000 of product a quarter (all figures U.S.), and can qualify for a five per cent front-end and three per cent back-end rebates;
• Silver partners have to sell between $10,000 and $25,000 a quarter, and are eligible for five per cent front-end rebates;
• Authorized partners can sell up to $10,000 a quarter, but get no product rebates.
Macklan refused to be specific about margins, other than to say they are “favourable.” Buffalo promises partners some marketing support.
He wouldn’t say how many resellers he wants to sign up here. But in addition to VARs, he also wants to expand Buffalo’s retail presence.
The Western-based London Drugs chain already carries the company’s products, and Macklan said he’s talking to other major electronics outlets.
While other vendors have similar products, Macklan said resellers should be interested in the features of Buffalo devices.
Wireless routers come with AirStation Secure System (AOSS), which configures network security with the push of one-button, he said. The LinkTheatre is a wireless media player with a progressive scan DVD player.
“One of the benefits of picking Buffalo is we have all of the components for your solution,” he said. For example, it has all the units needed to build a home theatre, including wireless storage.
Among its recent product releases are high-gain omni and directional antennas designed for its wireless routers and Ethernet converters.
The company’s wireless networking products carry a two-year warranty, while storage devices have a one-year warranty.
Ronald Gruia, an industry analyst with Frost & Sullivan in Toronto, noted that the North American market for wireless access points alone is forecast to grow by about 11 per cent a year until 2007.
Corporate demand is being driven by several factors, he said. One is the belief that it can be easier to set up wireless networks than string cabling through an office.
Another is the replacement of PBX systems with IP-based telephone networks. Many firms feel that while they’re installing a new phone system they can add wireless as well.
In the home, wireless is being pushed in part by the spread of DSL and cable Internet connectivity. Consumers want to share that connection between rooms and devices.
Another factor influencing buyers, Gruia said, could be the spread of city-wide WiFi hotspots.

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Howard Solomon
Howard Solomon
Currently a freelance writer, I'm the former editor of ITWorldCanada.com and Computing Canada. An IT journalist since 1997, I've written for several of ITWC's sister publications including ITBusiness.ca and Computer Dealer News. Before that I was a staff reporter at the Calgary Herald and the Brampton (Ont.) Daily Times. I can be reached at hsolomon [@] soloreporter.com

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