Northern Micro shows some spirit

Garnering 25th spot on the Top 100 VAR podium is Ottawa-based Northern Micro, an IT solution provider catering to public and private sector organizations.

The company — which caters to the Canadian government, schools, corporations, and home users — offers a range of solutions for personal computing,

enterprise resource management and infrastructure deployment and management.

While 90 per cent of revenue comes from the federal government and education market, president Herman Yeh said the company also serves the defense, transportation, health care, communications and energy sectors.

Yeh said the breakout year for the company came in 1992 when it moved away from selling PC hardware in the small and medium business market to enter the enterprise level, and to support the Canadian federal government desktop market. “”Since then Northern Micro has been growing into a full scale value added reseller,”” he said.

In the personal computing division, the company offers the Northern Micro Sprit as its house branded whitebox solution, as well as IBM and HP PCs, notebooks and printers. On the enterprise front, the company offers servers, SAN, NAS and backup solutions from HP and IBM, as well as network management software from Veritas, Computer Associates and HP. On the business solutions scene, the company offers Axapta, a Microsoft Business Solutions ERP product.

Yeh dished out several reasons for the top 25 ranking of the 18-year-old company, which also has regional offices in Halifax, Quebec City, Montreal and Vancouver. Thanks to its long-standing “”accumulated experience,”” he said Northern Micro understands the computing requirements of its customers; adjust its products to avoid latent dissatisfactions; differentiates its customers through segmentation as well as refines its service levels to provide specific services and products; and analyzes customer purchasing patterns.

And while the year was positive for Northern Micro and customers were given a host of offerings and services, the reseller community overall is feeling the pinch.

Yeh said his biggest challenges are declining margins and average unit selling price; the choice of products continues to increase; declining product support; decreasing delivery lead time; and pressure from the direct sales models from direct vendors (such as Dell) and from channel vendors (such as HP and IBM); and an economic slowdown.

But despite the challenges, the company has a sound business model and understands its target market, he said. “”Northern Micro is not immune to the challenges facing the Canadian PC market, but the company is performing better than its competition in areas of choice of products, declining support, direct sales within the channel vendors and economic slowdown.””

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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