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NEC changes view of multiple divisions

The company decides to merge projector and display units to better serve the channel. Execs say it may also mean smaller VARs receive more attention

To some VARs, it didn’t make sense for NEC Corp. to have two divisions for selling projectors and LCD displays.

The company finally agreed. Starting April 1, NEC Viewtechnology Ltd., the digital projector and LCD plasma wing, will be folded into NEC Display Solutions, which makes everything from desktop monitors to digital signs.

The result will be a “one-stop shop for display solution products,” said Bruno Pupo, NEC Display’s Canadian sales director.

“We’re expecting there’s going to be stronger support of the Canadian market. Combining the sales forces on both sides of the company will give us more resources to serve customers better.”

Jim Estill, CEO of Synnex Canada, one of NEC’s distributors here, agreed. “It is logical and makes it simpler for the customers,” he said in an e-mail interview. “It is somewhat confusing for customers to have more than one NEC. So this is positive.”

Other Canadian distributors are Ingram Micro and Tech Data. NEC company estimates there are 2,000 active partners across the country, and of them 800 who are “very active.”

“Many buy from both wings, which can be annoying for the reseller and the corporation,” says Pupo. With two units internal sales staff have to pass leads from one division to the other, while VARs sometimes have to find sales or technical support staff from two divisions on a single sale.

When the merger is complete VARs will have one person to contact among the combined eight NEC sales staff here, he said. In addition, it will mean a streamlining of internal policies and procedures.

“It makes a great deal of sense for the channel because we are both channel-focused companies,” said T.J. Trojan, president of NEC Display Solutions of America, based in Itasca, Ill.

Hopefully the merger will bring access to new customers, he said. The Visual Systems Group (the division that actually sells NEC Viewtechnology’s products in Canada and the U.S.) is strongest among audio-visual partners, he said, while the Display Solutions division is strongest among IT resellers.

That point was emphasized by Pierre Richer, senior vice-president of Visual Systems for the Americas. “We didn’t have an enterprise sales team driving the product, so it’s a great benefit to the projector and plasma business to have a sales reps to spec our products at the end user level and drive through the channel.”

“Now that we’ll have more resources we can develop new programs and strategies for the channel,” said Trojan. “I think we’d both like to expand our focus into the smaller VAR and reseller that primarily supports either the government or the small- medium-business environment.”

While the merger has been announced, details of the move, such as its organization, have yet to be made. Similarly, while each division has its own channel programs it hasn’t decided yet how they will be merged. All Trojan would say is that they will be “combined where there is synergy, and where there is not we’ll just expand them. So I think we’ll have a lot more programs for the channel as a result of bringing these companies together.”