That you probably don’t think about Information Technology Asset Disposition (ITAD) services – essentially the diversion of legacy IT equipment from landfills – until you need them underlines the reason Mississauga, Ont.-based ITAD provider OEM Corp. recently created a new sales director position.
As director of sales for OEM’s wholesale division, Adams now finds himself in the rare position of not growing a little-known portfolio of service offerings, but selling it to IT wholesalers worldwide. Fortunately, he brings with him more than a decade of channel experience that will undoubtedly prove valuable in his new role, which will focus on attracting wholesale partners to participate in OEM’s sales programs.
The company manages to remarket more than 90 per cent of end-of-life IT equipment that it processes, a sustainability-minded goal that Adams says played a lead role in drawing him to OEM in the first place, and counts mid-sized companies, Fortune 500 corporations, educational institutions, and all levels of government among its clients.
CDN recently chatted with Adams about his new role.
Computer Dealer News: How did you get into the marketing and sales world, and particularly the channel?
Steven Adams: My first job in the U.K. was with a company called Orion Media Marketing, selling IT consumables over the telephone. We were operating an AS400 system, so sales through the Internet and email were still a few years away, and as such, we were 100 per cent telephone based. The model was not too dissimilar to Daisytek in Canada.
From a channel point of view, the competitiveness between the distributors was fun. This was in an era prior to social media and smart phones, so it really was the personality on the phone, coupled with a decent price and stock availability that won the business. From a marketing standpoint, you did what you needed to do to close the business. It was a fantastic learning curve.
CDN: Can you tell us about some of your channel experience before you arrived at OEM?
SA: In 2007 I received a call from Lexmark pertaining to a Channel Account Manager role for Ontario. This is where my channel experience began as an external representative. The initial territory covered North Bay, Sault St. Marie, Timmins and Sudbury, so there were a few kilometers logged throughout my first 12 months.
Then it was southwestern Ontario and the Golden Horseshoe. This also included the larger national VAR (Value-Added Risk) accounts that required ongoing support through training, coaching, joint calls and various marketing programs. These accounts provided national exposure from a centralized location and allowed me to fully understand how the manufacturer could benefit each VAR differently.
In 2008 Lexmark launched the BSD (Business Solutions Dealer) program, targeting traditional photocopier dealers for the Lexmark A4 product. The Channel role changed in that I was targeting photocopier dealers with the goal of having Lexmark as the preferred line of A4 product.
This move really focused on the solutions sales side of the business, where technology was used to sell technology.
CDN: Why has OEM only created a director of sales position for its wholesale position now?
SA: The continuous growth of OEM has dictated that a Director of Sales role become a logical next step.
We want to be the preferred partner of choice for the IT Channel and this position truly makes sense for that objective. With sales now reaching beyond North America and into Asia and the Middle East, the wholesale group required a dedicated resource to maintain a focus on the core competencies of OEM. Growth has to be controlled and in line with the organization’s objectives.
Our CEO Jack McSorley and CTO Mark Scott now have the ability to direct OEM from a strategic standpoint. It is up to the various leaders of each internal department to ensure the direction is maintained.
One of areas I see immense opportunity in is supporting traditional VAR’s and their competitors to be more productive in RFP (Request for Proposal) or RFQ (Request for Quotation) situations. When technology is being replaced, we can support bids and quotes by adding a cash value to the items that are being replenished. Take an RFP for 500 laptops, the probability is that there are 500 laptops going end-of-life. By safely erasing the hard drive and stored data (and providing certification of such using Blancco) we repurpose these laptops and generate revenues back to the previous owners, while diverting product away from landfill. Now factor in that revenue to your RFP response and you’re receiving money to support and fund your response.
In essence, we’re the best kept secret in the IT marketplace.
CDN: Can you tell us about some of your plans in your new position?
SA: We’re looking to grow the headcount of the wholesale team as well. As we are distributing product across the globe, our team has to reflect the changes in the market from one country to the next. From cultural and language differences to time zones and manufacturer infrastructure, our employees need to reflect the markets that we serve and understand the requirements of the client.
Within the GTA (Greater Toronto Area) we are fortunate enough to have an unprecedented amount of cultural diversity. We are working with partners from all over the globe with many diverse cultures and customs. Given the correct opportunity, I believe our employees of today and tomorrow can harvest rich rewards for the environment and themselves.
One other area which we will be focusing on is OEM’s partnership with ReBoot, a program that allows organizations that are upgrading their IT infrastructure to donate their older technology to charity. This is a new program for OEM and is an amazing way to repurpose IT and receive charitable tax donations, while helping deliver essential technology to underserved Canadians. It is a win/win for everyone.
Editors’ note: This interview has been edited and condensed.