Synnex targets Varnex for Canada in 2009

Bob Stegner, the senior vice-president of marketing for North America at Synnex, says he has big plans for the distributor’s Varnex (small to medium-sized business) SMB loyalty program in the U.S., with plans to also introduce a separate program into Canada early next year.

Prior to joining Synnex last September, Stegner held the position of vice-president of worldwide market development for Ingram Micro. He isn’t the only ex-Ingram employee at Synnex with the recent announcement that Kevin Murai joined the distributor to become its CEO.

In his role there, Stegner was in charge of Ingram Micro’s VentureTech Network, a North American organization of IT firms who focus on the SMB market.

Now at Synnex, his mission is to re-develop and enhance the distributor’s already existing Varnex program, which he said has already been in place in the U.S. for about a year.

“When I started in September, I re-evaluated the program and made some changes to it,” Stegner said. “We rolled out those changes just last week.”

The changes Stegner refers to include more structure to the program as well as providing more in-depth resources that help partners to work more closely together with one another.

“The team prior to me had the right idea (about Varnex),” Stegner said. “But customers wanted more structure and to see what vendors were participating and to see how they could work more closely together when it comes to partnerships. I don’t think we were crisp enough there.”

With the new enhancements to Varnex, Stegner said Synnex’s goal is to help its solution providers increase the productivity and profitability of their businesses. The Varnex program will be competing against Ingram Micro’s VentureTech Network, as well as Tech Data’s TechSelect groups. Stegner said upon his evaluation, he felt changes needed to be made to Varnex because he said having a loyalty program available to partners is a critical component for carrying out successful day-to-day business.

“The challenge with resellers,” Stegner said, “is if you don’t build a loyalty program to help them, the only thing they have to look at with the distributor is price. Once you help them, it makes you a part of their company and you become an integral part of how they end up doing business,” he added.

Once resellers join Varnex, Stegner said they become a part of an organization of multiple resellers throughout the U.S., and eventually Canada. With Varnex, he said, partners will also get more vendor attention since business resources will be made more easily accessible to its members.

For Synnex Canada, Stegner confirmed the program will also be made available to resellers North of the border sometime around February 2009. At this time, he said Synnex will begin actively recruiting partners to Varnex. But, he warns, don’t expect Varnex to be an exact replica of its current U.S. group, because he said Canada will be treated as a different and separate entity to address the market differences between both countries.

Jim Estill, CEO of Synnex Canada, said introducing Varnex to its Canadian resellers is a good way for the distributor to attract more partners.

“Anything you can bring to VARs to add value and make more money, will make them want to be involved in it,” Estill said. “It’s just another service that we can offer to our resellers.”

While Stegner’s goal is to recruit the partners who are not currently involved in other distributors’ groups, he said he’s not at all worried about trying to build up its base.

“There’s probably about 400 resellers in VentureTech and 300 in Tech Data,” Stegner said. “You can’t tell me that’s all there is in the U.S. and Canada. There’s still tons of opportunities to attract the people who didn’t get involved in the community before. And with the economy, the timing’s much better now, so if anything, I’m getting into the game at a good time,” he added.

Asides from focusing on resellers who work in the SMB space, Stegner also said specific vertical markets will also be targeted. He mentions the government, healthcare and education sectors as being the key areas of interest.

Specific to Canada, Stegner also notes that he sees opportunities to go into the smaller markets and cities which other manufacturers otherwise couldn’t get at.

“If you look at a lot of the smaller cities (in Canada), you have a reseller in that city and they’ll probably have a mid-sized customer too,” Stegner said. “I feel there’s an opportunity to work more closely with our partners there once we introduce Varnex.”

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Maxine Cheung
Maxine Cheung
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