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Varnex heads in bold new direction

With two former Ingram execs onboard, Synnex takes aim at its distie rival

Many of us have been wondering how things would play out when Synnex hired two former Ingram Micro execs – and now we’re starting to see exactly that.

Just recently, former Ingram president and COO Kevin Murai signed on as CEO of Synnex, and Ingram’s former vice-president of worldwide market development, Bob Stegner, also made the leap to Ingram’s rival. During his tenure at Ingram, Stegner was in charge of the VentureTech Network, focused on partnerships and collaboration within the SMB market.

It seems Stegner is taking a similar approach with Synnex’s loyalty program – which, perhaps, shouldn’t come as much of a surprise. Though it probably irks some of his former colleagues.

Now, as the senior vice-president of marketing for North America, Stegner has plans for Synnex’s SMB loyalty program, called Varnex – first in the U.S., then in Canada early next year (the programs will probably differ somewhat to reflect two different markets).

Varnex isn’t exactly a new program – it’s already been in place for about a year in the U.S. But it never did gain the same momentum as VentureTech or Tech Data‘s TechSelect. And Varnex didn’t have such a strong collaboration theme – but that’s all changing.

What Stegner plans to do, then, is revamp Varnex, and he’s already rolled out the first round of changes, which include more structure and in-depth resources to help partners work more closely together. While the program is focused on the SMB market, it will also include verticals such as government, healthcare and education.

For Synnex, it’s a smart move. The distie is known for offering competitive prices, but we all know that in this day and age, relying on low prices is a risky business. Distributors need to offer value-add, just as their resellers do. With a revamped Varnex program, Synnex is solidifying its position as a value-added distribution partner.

So it should come as no surprise that Stegner is taking some of VentureTech’s strong points and incorporating them into Varnex. What this means, of course, is that Varnex will compete directly against VentureTech and TechSelect.

Stegner says, however, that the goal is to recruit partners that don’t already belong to a similar program. And that may not be as difficult as it sounds – only about 400 resellers participate in VentureTech, while about 300 take part in TechSelect. Which means there’s a huge number of VARs out there that aren’t participating in any of these collaborative programs, for whatever reason.

This gives VARs another choice. The trick for Synnex, however, will be to win over those VARs and bring them on board – the same ones who haven’t felt compelled to join any other program in the first place.