John Black, the longtime president of ScanSource's Catalyst Telecom division and a beloved figure in the channel, passed away on March 27 at his home in Greenville, S.C.
Black, who retired from ScanSource last year, is survived by his wife and three children. He ran Catalyst Telecom for more than 10 years and helped build the networking and telecom equipment division. Black first joined the distributor in 1998 and was named president of Catalyst Telecom the following year.
In 2012, Black stepped down as president of Catalyst Telecom and was named as executive vice president of worldwide sales strategy. Prior to joining ScanSource, Black spent more than 15 years at IBM in a variety of management and executive roles.
Mike Ferney, president of Worldwide Communications and Services at ScanSource, said Black was an admired friend and colleague for many ScanSource employees, partners and customers. "He touched so many people," Ferney said. "He was a leader, and the way he came to work every day was unique and it made him someone you aspired to be like."
Ferney said that Black had a tremendous effect on the culture and channel DNA at ScanSource. "He brought up a lot of the executives and staff members here, including me. He raised us," he said. "We'll try to carry the torch for him going forward and continue his approach, which was to support the channel and be a straight shooter. People were fiercely loyal to John, and he leaves behind an army of devotees -- not just here but in the channel as well."
Catalyst Telecom solution providers remembered Black fondly and spoke of his personal touch with customers.
Jeff Heibert, CEO of ROI Networks, a solution provider headquartered in San Juan Capistrano, Calif., called Black "a great friend and mentor" and said that he will be missed greatly. "I will always remember John as he was instrumental in the initial support and funding of ROI Networks," Heibert said.
Heibert said Black was an enthusiastic supporter of the channel. "Over the 15-plus years I knew John, he was always positive, compassionate and passionate about supporting his customers as president of Catalyst Telecom," he said. "He always had a willingness to listen and learn, and offer solid advice and counsel. John clearly lived and demonstrated his commitment to partners each and every day."
Pat Grillo, CEO of Atrion Communications Resources, a Branchburg, N.J.-based solution provider and longtime Catalyst Telecom customer, called Black a special individual who was a true people person.
"He was one of the nicest people I've ever met in the industry," Grillo said. "He was a very genuine guy. He said what he meant, and he meant what he said, and that went a long way with people."
Grillo said a few years ago, during a Catalyst Telecom event, he was recovering from a medical procedure and was feeling down. Grillo said Black saw him, put an arm around his shoulder, and comforted him despite having a busy schedule to attend to at the event.
"He took time out of his day at the show to comfort me and build me up, because that's the kind of person he was, and I'll never forget it," Grillo said. "He was a great man."
PUBLISHED APRIL 2, 2014