Forbes, who was the former head of Comstor in Canada, which is a division of Westcon Group, is now the vice-president of Westcon Canada. He took over Lynn Smurthwaite-Murphy‘s title and duties three months ago when she was promoted to senior vice-president for the U.S. and Canada, Westcon Group.
The networking and communications distributor started selling Cisco solutions in January 2008, but launched its Cisco business in Canada under the Comstor name last September. The target customers on this side of the business are small to mid-size enterprises with up to 250 seats, Forbes said.
Westcon’s Comstor business focuses solely on Cisco Systems’ solutions and is globally known as Comstor Worldwide. In Canada, the division operates as an internal division of Westcon Canada. With the recent promotions of Smurthwaite-Murphy and Forbes, Jason Hansen is now the lead for Westcon’s Comstor business in Canada.
“It’s been a great first year for Comstor in Canada,” Forbes said. “In our second year of operation, out of all the subsidiaries of Westcon and Comstor around the world, Comstor Canada had the highest amount of growth year over year. Our Comstor business unit continues to accelerate their revenue plan too.”
Shortly after Westcon announced its Cisco-only Comstor business unit in Canada, other distributors such as Ingram Micro (NYSE: IM) and Tech Data (Nasdaq: TECD) were also quick to strike a partnership with Cisco. Forbes said that although the Comstor brand has only been in Canada for just one year, after overcoming some challenges, it’s since been “gaining momentum” in the market place.
“It took some time for some of our established partners to keep us in mind when they were looking at Cisco opportunities,” Forbes said. “After about 18 months, we’ve really started to see that change. The Comstor brand still may not resonate in Canada as much as we’d prefer it to, but I think that the brand will really become synonymous with the Cisco brand.”
One of the reasons why the Comstor brand has been successful so far is because Forbes says Comstor takes the best of what a broadline distributer would do and also apply what a value-added distributor would do.
“We realize you can’t be all things Cisco to the partner community,” he said. “We’ve really set our focus on Cisco’s advanced technologies portfolio and made that a priority in talking to partners.”
Currently Comstor Canada has about 200 channel partners, with room and opportunities to grow, Forbes said. While he said he doesn’t anticipate getting to 300 partners, he does see opportunity to add another 20-30 “strong partners.”
One of the primary focuses is to further enable and work with its existing Comstor brand partners, Forbes said. To help with this, Comstor released its eighth global edition of its Solutions Handbook earlier this month. This is a free resource to partners that comes out once a year. The Solutions Handbook is a collection of solutions from Comstor’s affinity vendors, which are vendors whose solutions support Cisco technology. The guide is meant to act as a go-to document for fast reference for parts numbers, specifications and features, Forbes said. The guide is available as a printed version, an online eBook, a USB-key and also as an iPad and iPhone application.
Moving into the new year, Forbes said the primary solution and technology areas of focus will be on unified communications, security, data centre and on Cisco’s Unified Computing System solutions.
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