Kaspersky Lab taps channel vet to head Canadian operation

Some four years after Kaspersky Lab entered the North American market with an office in Boston, the Russian security vendor has set-up show in Canada and has tapped a veteran of the Canadian channel and security community to lead the way.

Former Symantec Canada channel chief and Net Integrations executive Kevin Krempulec has joined Kaspersky Lab as vice-president, sales, Canada and will lead Kaspersky’s Canadian operations from a new headquarters facility in Markham, Ont. that officially opened last month. For the first time, Kaspersky’s Canadian partners and customers will benefit from a local presence.

“We’re excited to have local support for our Canadian customers and local partners,” said Krempulec.

He’s currently busy at work hiring a local sales team that will be responsible for working-with and managing local customers and channel partners across Canada. While he’s still determining the exact size of the team, Krempulec said he expects to have Kaspersky employees in major cities across Canada, including Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto, Calgary and Vancouver.

“Kaspersky has been selling into Canada for some time and we’ve built-up a good base of customers and channel partners, but local support means a lot, and so does training local partners and enabling them on how and why to sell local products,” said Krempulec.

The Canadian operation will be focused on sales and marketing, said Krempulec. For customer support they’ll leverage Kaspersky’s Boston call centre, which has a bilingual capability to serve Quebec.

With a tightening economy right now not all companies are expanding, but Krempulec said Kaspersky feels this is the right time to make a bigger move into Canada. It’s been four years since the move into the U.S., the company is doing well, and customer and partner enthusiasm for the Kaspersky offerings remains strong.

“I hear time and time again from partners that they love the Kaspersky story, the products are second to none, we’re really on top of response times and detection, and partners are really excited about positioning this to customers,” he said. “It was always in the plans to open our Canadian office in the latter half of 2008.”

Krempulec adds his own background and experience with the channel will be a help as Kaspersky goes harder after companies such as Symantec and McAfee with a more affordable offering.

“I do have some long history in the Canadian channel. I know how it works, and who the players are,” said Krempulec. “I think we’re probably best-suited here because Kaspersky is a 100 per cent channel-friendly company. We’re not taking deals direct. So a level of trust is already established with partners.

They know we’re going to work with them.”

The company has a good, broad channel base established across Canada, said Krempulec, from security-focused VARs to LARs that are helping Kaspersky break into the lucrative SMB market.

“Our coverage model is good for a base, but we need to expand,” said Krempulec. “I do have areas in the countries I want to round-out and have a deeper later of channel support with partners that want to differentiate themselves.”

Kaspersky’s channel program, called Green Team, was launched last May and, said Krempulec, has been successful energizing partners and bringing new partners on board.

A revision of the partner program will be launched next month, with changes focusing around benefits and requirements.

The revisions will move away from the need for revenue requirements, and rather seek to ensure smaller partners in rural communities have the ability to be competitive.

“We really want the program to be somewhat flattened so more partners can reap the benefits, such as deal registration and implementation support,” said Krempulec. “Partners should be able to make really strong margins and have the peace of mind of offering their customers a great solution.”

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Jeff Jedras
Jeff Jedras
A veteran technology and business journalist, Jeff Jedras began his career in technology journalism in the late 1990s, covering the booming (and later busting) Ottawa technology sector for Silicon Valley North and the Ottawa Business Journal, as well as everything from municipal politics to real estate. He later covered the technology scene in Vancouver before joining IT World Canada in Toronto in 2005, covering enterprise IT for ComputerWorld Canada. He would go on to cover the channel as an assistant editor with CDN. His writing has appeared in the Vancouver Sun, the Ottawa Citizen and a wide range of industry trade publications.

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