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TechSelect looks long term

Distributor hones the skill set of its TechSelect partner base, which totals 43 VARs in Canada

Ottawa – Tech Data continued honing the talent of its staff and some of its partners here as part of its annual TechSelect conference. Assembled by invitation only, TechSelect VARs total 43 members from geographically distinct markets, who pay $2,000 a year to belong.

The latest conferences – the seventh to include Canadian members and the third solely for those members – took place earlier this month. Among the highlights over three days was a chance for participants to showcase various tools that they have developed to manage their operations, as well as a no-holds-barred discussion of best practices in compensation covering how much employees are paid and why.

“You wouldn’t share that among your competitors in your local geography, but you would with a competitor 3,000 miles away,” said Rick Reid, president of Tech Data Canada Corp.

Greg Myers, Tech Data Canada’s vice-president of marketing, acknowledged that the idea of bringing the most promising VARs together is hardly original. But by combining that idea with aspects of community-based marketing TechSelect members become well placed to address problems and solutions in their rapidly changing field, he said.

“They’re no longer just individuals attending a conference,” he said. “They’re members of an association with a common interest and a common focus, and likely experiencing many of the same challenges.”

Although their makeup varies significantly, the average TechSelect member has about 30 employees, and does around $5 million in business annually. What distinguishes them for Tech Data is their combined strength as a group serving much of the country region by region, representing about 20,000 accounts in all and some $350-$400 million in revenue.

“We’re looking for people who are around for the long haul,” says sales director Ed Galasso. “They focus on solutions, not just moving the boxes, and they’re well respected within the IT community.”

Profit margin

Tech Data is also interested in those solutions, especially when it can help them serve vendors in a marketplace where users are demanding increasing volumes of IT equipment that has had a steadily decreasing profit margin.

“Our notebook sales in units this year grew at close to 50 per cent,” Reid offers by way of example. “But our revenue – less than 20 per cent.”

Meanwhile, Tech Data continues to absorb all manner of shipping and inventory expenses, pulling in some of the most outstanding resellers in order to highlight the company’s IT distribution potential for manufacturers. For instance, the distributor might take advantage of the regional clout of TechSelect members by helping them mount sales shows with nearby resellers, reaching out to small and medium businesses in places that might otherwise remain underdeveloped.

“It represents an ability to get that market that most manufacturers want at, the SMB, the hot market space of today,” said Reid.