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D&H Canada turns two, sees gaming and health & home in its future

Greg Tobin reflects on the distributor's two years in the Canadian market, its latest vendors, and its plans for more

While there was some skepticism over whether or not the market could support another major distributor when D&H Distributingof Harrisburg, Penn. tapped Greg Tobin to launch D&H Canada in July 2007, as the distributor enters its third year it appears to be defying the skeptics.

While the first two years were about establishing the brand in the market and showing its service-centric model was a winner, D&H Canada general manager Greg Tobin said the third year will be more about strategic growth.

“Going into year three, what we’ll be doing is listening a lot more to what our SMB customers are looking for from the line card and for their solutions, and looking to bring on vendors that can align to those requirements,” said Tobin, noting consumer solutions, commercial systems, desktops, notebooks, servers and printing solutions as priority areas. “Customers continue to tell us to differentiate, and to look for new vendors unique to the Canadian marketplace.”

While it’s slowing customer growth does continue strong, said Tobin, at 50 per cent and 61 per cent in May and June. With a high-touch model, more customers also means more to support, but he said their new warehouse can handle the growth and they’ll do what’s needed to maintain the customer-centric model.

“As long we we’ve got the demand we’ll grow and we’ll continue to deliver the intimacy model, we’ll scale,” said Tobin.

On the vendor front, Tobin said they’ve added a number of new vendors in the last 30 days, and there’s more to come shortly. Among the newcomers are display and projector vendor BenQ Canada, anti-virus vendor Bit Defender, and ACD Systems, Victoria, B.C.-based photo editing software vendor that D&H will also be distributing in the U.S. Other new signs include OCZ Technology and HANNspree.

D&H is also the new exclusive Canadian distributor for Cisco SystemsPure Digital products, creators of the Flip series of ultraportable video cameras. Tobin said he’s excited about the partner opportunity around the Flip, building it into business applications where video must be balanced with portability, such as video home tours for realtors.

“We’re really seeing the impacts of social networking, and people are using it for business applications as well. We believe it’s a really great product,” said Tobin. “What we like is there’s no doubt video consumes a lot of storage and network capacity and bandwidth, that’s one of Cisco’s areas of interest obviously.”

An announcement will be forthcoming soon but the next major focus area for D&H Canada is expected to be high-end PC gaming, a business D&H Canada’s U.S. parent plays in. In the U.S., D&H is also in the home entertainment, education, housewares and health care spaces, and Tobin said he’s starting to see interest from his Canadian SMB resellers, particularly e-tailers, to see D&H Canada move into the latter space, offering products such as fans, dehumidifiers and blood pressure monitors.

“I can’t do everything all at once, and I’ve got to make sure I have my priorities set,” said Tobin. “I think over time you’ll find we’ll continue to develop and look like D&H in the U.S., but that has taken them 91 years. We can’t do it all at once.”

There’s also the economy to consider. The leading indicator is going to be the unemployment rate, and Tobin said as long as that continues to increase consumer and business confidence is going to suffer, and so will the economy.

“From our perspective, people want to make sure they have their jobs. But I don’t think we’re too far off before we stabilize and start to turn the corner,” said Tobin.