John DeRocker Retires: Long-Time VAR Led Nexus For 15 Years Before Selling To Stratos2:57 PM EST Thu. Sep. 05, 2013
John DeRocker, who headed solution provider Nexus for 15 years before selling it to an investment group that has since made it an international channel powerhouse, is retiring.
DeRocker said a desire to get away from the 16-hour to 18-hour days needed to manage the international business of Stratos Management Systems, which last year acquired Nexus, and spend more time with his four young sons, prompted him to step down from the company.
Stratos, which prior to its acquisition of Nexus was an equity firm looking to build a national solution provider, used Nexus as its first step into the market and as the base on which it has since acquired several other locations.
DeRocker, in his role as Stratos' senior vice president of worldwide channels, managed Stratos' international vendor and distribution partners, and engaged with new manufacturing partners and net-new customers to get them started with Stratos.
"It was a tough position," DeRocker said.
"With international, I was starting at 5:00 a.m. and ending at 8:00 to 9:00 p.m. because of the time zone changes," he said. "It made for a 16-hour to 18-hour day. I would work all day Sunday because it was Monday in Asia."
DeRocker, who is 43 years old, told CRN that retiring before the age of 50 was always a part of his plans. And 2013 seemed to him to be as good a time to retire as any.
"We're at the point now where Nexus and Stratos are working well," he said. "Stratos is well on their goal of where it wants to go. We [at Nexus] were the connection for Stratos. All-in-all, I feel good about my last 20 years in IT, and confident Stratos is set for the next 20 years."
Keith Norbie, former Stratos vice president and now director of server, virtualization and storage for the Eastern U.S. market of Technology Integration Group (TIG), a San Diego-based solution provider, said he was glad to hear DeRocker was able to retire and spend more time with his family.
"I'll always owe a debt of gratitude to John," Norbie said. "I was one of the four guys he picked to help him start Nexus. He always provided great advise, and was always a big help to me."
NEXT: Death Of A Friend Reminded DeRocker What Is Really Important
DeRocker was inspired to retire in large part by the death of a friend, a former Cisco Certified Internetwork Expert (CCIE), with whom he worked for about 20 years.
"He didn't smoke, didn't drink, he had no diseases," he said. "He was younger than I was. But he came down with stomach cancer a year ago. It ate him up from the inside-out. It got me thinking. I have four young boys. I'm not in tennis-ball-walker mode. I don't have cancer. But at that point, I thought about what would happen if it happened to me."
DeRocker officially retired internally early last month, and spends time consulting with Stratos during its transition period. He said it is good to be at home.
While DeRocker grows his relationship with his sons, he expects Stratos to continue growing its business.
"The international business will continue growing," he said. "It took time to develop. But once the wheel turned, there was no stopping it. We're already doing NetApp deals in Poland."
PUBLISHED SEPT. 5, 2013