Ingram Micro plans before midyear to roll out a revamped version of its Partnership America program that better meets the needs of its government and education solution providers, said Ingram Micro executives.
The distributor's top three goals initially are to build a community of government solution providers, tie the group more strongly to a Web site at www.partnershipamerica.com and continue to add value to the group. Ingram Micro executives revealed further details and plans for the group.
"It's a great group of people to work with, and they're all very positive," said Bob Laclede, vice president and general manager of the government and education division at Ingram Micro. "It's a great time to be in government and education."
Ingram Micro's government sales growth is up "single digits" for 2001, and it's expected to be up another 5 percent to 6 percent for 2002, said Ingram Micro executives. Overall, the government and education IT market is worth about $100 billion, the company said.
The distributor will model the new Partnership America after the successes Ingram Micro has had with its SMB-focused VentureTech Network, yet services will be specifically geared to the needs of government solution providers.
"It's really good for Ingram Micro to set up [Partnership America as a separate program," said Bicky Singh, president of Yorba Linda, Calif.-based solution provider Future Computing Solutions. Singh attended the distributor's three-day conference last week and was impressed with Ingram Micro's drive and initiative.
Ingram Micro is not waiting for vendor funding to get started on revamping the program; it has already scheduled Partnership America events through 2003 and top-level executives attended the conference, said Singh.
"That kind of showed me the commitment these guys are putting into the [Partnership America program," Singh said. In 2001, about 30 percent to 35 percent of Future Computing's business was in the government market, but Singh expects that to increase to 50 percent this year.
The revamped Partnership America will be a two-tiered program, and the distributor expects more than 1,500 solution providers to participate in it. In 2001, more than 8,300 Ingram Micro solution providers sold into the government and education markets, said the company.
Tier One will include solution providers with about 80 percent or more of their companies' sales in the government and education markets, and the level will drop to 50 percent for Tier Two. About 400 solution providers will be in Tier One with about 1,100 in Tier Two, the company said.
Singh believes the planned database of Partnership America members on the group's Web site will be "crucial" to smaller and midsize solution providers. Some government contracts stipulate that solution providers partner with other certified small, minority-owned, woman-owned or veteran-owned solution providers to win the contract, said Singh.
The member database will foster these partnerships and bring more government business to Partnership America members, Singh said. "That is going to be a huge resource," he added.
Services that Ingram Micro plans to further strengthen in Partnership America includes its RFQ assistance, financial services and ways to reduce solution providers' fixed costs, such as human resources help, benefits and pension programs and discounts with Federal Express.