Walter Rodriguez, founder and president of RAC Systems in Morristown, N.J., knows that in order to succeed as a VAR you have to reinvent yourself every few years. That’s why Rodriguez is looking to partner with NEC Display Solutions in the emerging public display market.
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RAC Systems sells display products from the likes of ViewSonic, Samsung and Sony. But Rodriguez is partnering with NEC because of that vendor’s ability to offer the full breadth of partnerships necessary for a small VAR like RAC Systems to be successful in the public display marketplace. Whether it’s installers, streaming content producers or ISVs aimed at specific vertical industries, NEC has done the legwork to bring all the pieces together, Rodriguez says. That’s no small matter given the breadth and scope of the partnerships necessary to build a public display solutions business. “You know that NEC is standing behind you,” he said. “You don’t get that from other vendors, not even close.”
On May 11-12, NEC will highlight the emerging digital-signage opportunity by hosting a display solutions summit that will bring together several hundred VARs with more than 30 vendors that solution providers can team with in digital signage. In addition, NEC in June plans to unveil the first in a family of large-screen PC/TV displays aimed at this market. Those models, priced starting at about $2,800 for a 37-inch display, will pack a big punch for digital-signage VARs.
Considering the low margins on flat-panel displays that have come about through continuing steep price drops, the public display business is a chance to build a new profitable managed services business, Rodriguez says. “If the car industry was like the IT industry, we’d all be riding around in brand-new cars for $300,” he said, pointing to price drops on 19-inch flat panels from $599 to $299 over the past year. Six years ago, Rodriguez had to sell 10 displays to make $1,000. Today, he has to sell 42.
Given the steep price declines, Rodriguez says he is hopeful that the NEC partnership will provide him with a solutions edge. “I know it’s an overused term, but for me this could for the first time provide us with a managed service model,” he said. “That is a different type of business model for us.”
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