Where are the core areas of growth for Zones from your perspective?
First, we're seeing great growth in our data center business, which includes networking. We've seen excellent growth there because that's where we've made a lot of investments in engineers and solutions architects to build momentum there. You'd expect that a lot more data center business would come out of that investment, and that's exactly what's happening. We're also seeing growth in mobile devices and becoming a mobility destination of choice. Many CIOs are trying to figure out the bring-your-own-device trend and mobility strategies for their companies, and we feel we have a very good portfolio and solutions offerings there.
Speaking of mobility, Zones is one of a handful of companies under the Microsoft Devices Program that can sell Surface tablets. How has that business been for Zones?
I don't have a ton of visibility there just yet, but I can tell you that the Surface business is growing. It obviously started, by comparison to other products, from a smaller base. But it is growing. The feedback from my team is that there have been a lot of great improvements with the second-generation devices.
You've got a big Apple business. What do you see happening there?
That's a very robust area. There are more corporate solutions today that include mobile devices like tablets, and that's good for our Apple business. We're definitely seeing Apple in more corporate environments today. In both cases, with Microsoft and Apple, those are very important relationships and I don't see that changing any time soon. In fact, we're focused on making sure we're nurturing them even more and growing those businesses.
What about vertical industries? Where are the biggest growth drivers?
I'll tell you that our health care guys at Zones are absolutely killing their number right now. I won't say what that number is, but we are really executing well above what our expectations were for that business. So we're seeing tremendous growth in health care IT, and we're continuing to add resources there as well. And I'll say it's refreshing to be at a privately held company that doesn't need to report results every 90 days, and can put a business plan together and make investments in certain market opportunities and not have that 90-day time line to deal with. I think that's great.
Do you feel being a private company is an advantage over some of your publicly traded competitors?
After being here two months, yes, I absolutely think it is an advantage. We can make a lot of investments and there isn't a public market that needs to know how we're investing our money or how quickly we're getting a return on those investments. It allows us to be a little more nimble and attack market segments differently than a publicly traded company.
Is Zones looking to partner with smaller, regional solution providers to expand the services coverage?
No. If we don't have the resources internally, then we're using the resources of our major vendor and distribution partners and using the tools and capabilities that they have. In fact, from everything I've seen so far, I think we're suboptimized in some of those areas. We have a lot of resources and infrastructure that we've built here. And that's the mentality here: Make sure we have the infrastructure here at Zones that's ours and that can differentiate us in the market.
A lot of larger, national solution providers like Zones and some of your competitors have been known as direct market resellers or DMRs. Do you feel that term DMR or even reseller still applies to companies like Zones?
It certainly doesn't for us. I can't speak for everyone else, although I have had in the recent past a chance to talk to all of those executives as customers in my role in distribution. But I don't think the term applies. Here's how I see it: The foundation of the company has really been built on that product business, and it's still an important part of Zones and it will be a foundation for us going forward. However, all of the growth and tremendous opportunity is going to be taking the great customer relationships we already have and working with them in their data centers and helping them understand the service capabilities that we've got. So the term DMR probably needs to change. I think national solution provider is a more accurate description.
PUBLISHED NOV. 8, 2013