Frank Vitagliano, a channel legend known for his ability to forge long-lasting relationships in the rough-and-tumble IT sales trenches over four decades, is being inducted into the IT Hall of Fame.
Vitagliano, who by sheer force of his personality and ironclad integrity, has become a living example of how to drive partner sales growth and loyalty, will accept the honor at CRN parent The Channel Company's XChange 2017 conference on Aug. 15 in Orlando, Fla. CRN founded the IT Hall of Fame in 1997 and it has been administered by CompTIA since 2010.
"Frank is the ultimate role model and relationship builder," said Quy "Q" Nguyen, founder and CEO of Allyance Communications, one of the top global communications solution providers, choking up as he discussed Vitagliano's impact on the IT channel and the industry. "He has had a huge influence on me and many, many others in the channel. No one does it better than Frank. He approaches business as a people-first proposition and then makes the business connection. He understands that deals are done not only in the boardroom but after 5 p.m. in social settings. He always takes the time to get to know people."
That ability to develop personal relationships has had a profound impact on Nguyen, who met Vitagliano 15 years ago. "As a rookie coming into the channel, everyone was always talking about Frank, and everyone always wanted to be around him," said Nguyen. "He was a mover and shaker that understood people and was admired and respected by everyone. He didn't do business like everybody else. I knew when I met him I wanted to be just like him."
Vitagliano joins a long line of industry and channel luminaries in the IT Hall of Fame, including industry titans Apple co-founder and former CEO Steve Jobs; Dell Technologies founder and CEO Michael Dell; and Microsoft co-founder, board member and Technology Advisor Bill Gates. A host of channel executives have been inducted into the IT Hall of Fame as well, including former CompuCom Systems CEO and 2016 inductee Jim Dixon; and IBM channel pioneer Dave Boucher, a former Vitagliano colleague.
Vitagliano's Horatio Alger-like climb to the top of the channel started in the IBM mail room in 1973. From there, Vitagliano moved steadily up the IBM corporate ladder with his channel career set in motion when he became an inside sales rep selling office supplies in 1977. That inside sales job turned Vitagliano on to the channel. It became his passion to soak up everything he could learn about the channel.
That was in no small part due to two mentors, Ross Venuti, who hired Vitagliano as an inside sales rep at IBM, and IT Hall of Fame member and former IBM general manager of distribution channels marketing Boucher, who urged Vitagliano to get a Ph.D. in the channel. Vitagliano responded by becoming a professor of sorts on every piece of the channel ecosystem from distribution to solution provider to the customer.
After "retiring" from IBM in 2006, Vitagliano took the senior vice president of global channels job at Juniper Networks, where he built a world-class channel program and mentored a new generation of channel leaders. From there, he went on to take the vice president of North America job at Dell. Vitagliano's appointment was hailed by partners and instantly brought channel credibility to the company.
After nearly four years at Dell, in a move that has become the perfect second act given his long career helping solution providers, Vitagliano became a solution provider himself in January as the CEO of Computex Technology Solutions, No. 120 on the 2017 CRN Solution Provider 500, a highly regarded national managed services provider.
"Frank Vitagliano is the face of the channel," said Michael Goldstein, CEO of LAN Infotech, a Fort Lauderdale, Fla., solution provider who has been a huge fan of Vitagliano’s since he first met him at an Ingram Micro VentureTech partner event many years ago. "When you look up the word 'channel' in Webster's dictionary, there is a picture of Frank. Relationships are what really make us do business with a vendor. Frank got that. He's like a religion in the channel. As a solution provider, you had to follow him to whatever vendor he went to because you knew he would always have the solution provider's best interests in mind. Frank knew that it always came down to relationships above all else."