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Leonard Zavala had been waiting seven long weeks for five Cisco Catalyst switches from distributor Tech Data. Finally, the frustrated president and CEO of The Princeton Group, a small solution provider based in Gilbert, Ariz., put a post on’s community boards.

Right after the June 21 post titled, “Has Anyone Encountered Problems With Tech Data Lately?” Zavala got a phone call from CRN Assistant News Editor Scott Campbell. And soon after, he received a call from Pete Peterson, senior vice president of U.S. sales at Tech Data.

Needless to say, Zavala walked away satisfied that Tech Data was stepping up to bat to resolve any and all of his complaints. It’s a compelling story and one that shows the power of communicating in the CRN Channel Community.

Zavala himself says the CRN community boards are an important tool for VARs to get issues resolved. “It helped me highlight a problem and bring focus to my frustration,” says Zavala. “By highlighting the problem it got the attention it otherwise would not have.”

CRN has always been the voice of the solution provider community. The CRN Community, however, takes that commitment to another level. It’s a place to get answers. The CRN Community allows VARs of all stripes a platform to help each other hone their sales and technical skills and get any and all of their questions answered on how to win deals.

What’s more, the different groups in the community allow like-minded solution providers to get together to help each other. The Small Medium Business Channel Voice, Custom Systems/White Box and Managed Print Services all offer solution providers the opportunity to connect with peers and CRN editors.

Zavala says the supply chain crisis shows just how critical it is to get reliable and accurate shipment information from the channel supply chain, which flows from the product manufacturer to the vendor and then to the distributor.

There’s a lot of things that can be done to improve vendor supply chains. The CRN Supply Chain Group offers a place where all segments of the channel can go to help solve the issues that have resulted in lost sales. For more on the supply chain crisis and Zavala’s issues with the Cisco shortages, you can go to

What’s amazing about the supply chain crisis is how it shows what little progress we’ve made in the last quarter century in terms of making sure that solution providers have the right product at the right time. Of course, solving problems like this requires an investment. Most companies don’t want to invest in a solution until a crisis hits.

Whether you’ve got a crisis, need some help on a deal or just want to see what your peers are thinking, check out the CRN community at

BACKTALK: What problems do you need help solving? Contact Steven Burke via e-mail at

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