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VARs interviewed by CRN said D-Link has made substantial progress with channel partners in the past two years -- a period of time that dates back to when D-Link's current North America management team was put in place.
In January 2010, longtime channel executive Tidd was promoted from channel chief and marketing boss to North America president. A year earlier, Tidd had arrived at D-Link with a charter to make the company's VARs more profitable and more focused on selling integrated solution sets with services, not just reselling point products.
D-Link had by then seen several years of upheaval. A sweeping reorganization in May 2009 had ousted then-CEO Steven Joe and former U.S. channel chief Keith Karlsen, and D-Link had collapsed its U.S., Canada and Latin America sales theaters into a single unit, the Pan America group.
Tidd, meanwhile, was no stranger to companies in transition. He'd joined D-link following the implosion of 3Com, which at the time was two years away from being acquired by HP but had recently ousted then-channel chief Tidd and his team and seen a deal to be acquired by Bain Capital Partners go bust.
When they left 3Com, Tidd, Piwowarczyk and others were highly regarded in the channel, VARs said. That allowed Tidd and his lieutenants used the strength of their reputations to get down to business right away evangelizing D-Link to skeptical channel partners.
BCT's Gregg said he'd known Tidd and Piwowarczyk and other executives since their 3Com days. That helped in getting VARs to take a fresh look at the D-Link portfolio, he noted, even if at first they considered D-Link a consumer product.
"These guys had put together award-winning reseller programs at 3Com, and I trusted them," Gregg said. "I thought they had the right idea here."
Medwed said that before Tidd and his team took charge his company "did not have much of a relationship" with D-Link. "We knew of them, but we didn't know them much from the professional side. When Nick took over, all of a sudden, there was some clarity regarding what they were trying to achieve," he said. "They reached out to us and we took a hard look at the D-Link solution because we could trust them."
Tidd and his team went to great lengths to emphasize the breadth and depth of the D-Link product portfolio and its appeal in enterprise accounts. D-Link was even added to Gartner's influential Magic Quadrant for Wireless LAN in 2010, for example, with the researcher calling out its "expanded channel delivery strategy that can provide new partners and open up its presence in other locations" and the strength of its integrated switch, offering security for wired and wireless network management.
D-Link has also shown up more favorably in channel-wide industry surveys. This year, for example, D-Link was No. 18 on CRN's 2011 Best Companies to Partner With, an exclusive research study that measured customer demand, partner relevance and strength of technology to cull a list of 25 top channel vendors from a herd of 225 vendors in 13 technology categories.
"We've had some great changes in perception," Piwowarczyk said. "When I came to D-Link, the thing people said to me all the time was, 'Do you compete with Cisco?' The meek commentary at that point was, 'OK, we'll take the edge and Cisco can have the core.' But now we compete directly with Cisco. I think we built a sense of pride for D-Link."
Piwowarczyk said his team's goal was to spend less time focused on transactional partners and its inside sales, and more time focused on building customer and partner intimacy with a higher-touch approach.