Stegner Kicks Synnex's First Varnex Show Into High Gear


Following a video featuring footage from "The Terminator," Stegner announced that he's "already back" to more than 125 VARs. Dubbing himself "The Synnex Builder," Stegner is back in the spotlight as he looks to build his second solution provider community organization.

The former head of Ingram Micro's VentureTech Network is in charge of forging Synnex's Varnex organization, which will compete against Ingram's VTN and Tech Data's TechSelect groups to win the mindshare of some of the top SMB solution providers in the country.

"I think it's important for Synnex to have a strong customer community," Stegner said. "Synnex has been strong in relationships, so the concept is not totally new. But now we're formalizing it to look at customers who can make us more successful in their business."

In building Varnex from scratch, Stegner said he targeted about 250 current Synnex customers to build an initial community of about 150. Once that group builds the foundation, he expects to recruit 200 to 300 more members.

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"I'm very focused on guys selling into the small and midsize market, and various vertical markets as well. Synnex has a very strong health care initiative, so we are formalizing that initiative more in line with the Varnex group," Stegner said.

Like VentureTech and TechSelect, Stegner wants to build a community that shares best practices and business opportunities. And opening a conference with something like a motorcycle -- part of a giveaway with Microsoft -- was a Stegner trademark at VentureTech. He hopes to take what he learned there and add even more value to Varnex for VARs.

"What's important is to find ways that make VARs more successful. Currently, most of the conversations a VAR has with a distribution partner has been about price. If we can talk to these guys about more, we become a more trusted partner. We become a part of their business," he said.

In that quest, Stegner now as an old friend as a new ally. Kevin Murai, recently named co-CEO of Synnex, was a frequent participant at VentureTech events when he was president and COO of Ingram Micro. He is scheduled to speak to Synnex VARs for the first time on Friday morning.

"Since Kevin came on board, the recruitment process has heated up on an inbound process. We have people calling us now [to join Varnex]," Stegner said.

Two solution providers attending the Varnex show with experience in VAR communities said the Synnex start-up shows promise.

"I believe Synnex is on the right path with Varnex. I'm a big believer in these communities built by distributors," said Amir Sohrabi, executive vice president of Managed Solutions Planning Xperts (MSPx), Vienna, Va. Sohrabi is a member of TechSelect and was a member of VentureTech, dating back to its origins with Intelligent Electronics.

"They give VARs a good venue to come together to discuss different opportunities and to leverage our efforts collectively. By Synnex putting emphasis on this community, it helps the overall market," he said.

He said Stegner's leadership, and the addition of Murai, are evidence that Synnex plans to support the initiative. "They are making the right investments. They're not just doing this to have a program. They are bringing people in who have done it before and done it right. They've been through the trials and tribulations of building a program. That gives us a comforting feeling," Sohrabi said.

Philip Fontana, president of Lewis and Lewis, Anchorage, Alaska, is a member of VentureTech, and former member of TechSelect, likes the agenda where members can discuss ideas and share best business practices with similar companies. He looks forward to helping to shape the organization going forward. "The type of companies that do business with Synnex seem a little more similar in scope and size to ours," he said. He said he didn't join Varnex because of Stegner. In fact, he joined Ingram's group after Stegner had left his North American VentureTech role.

Stegner emphasizes that he doesn't intend to recruit solution providers from either VentureTech or TechSelect to join Varnex. There are plenty of VARs out there for three communities, he said.

"From my standpoint, nobody wants to belong to three country clubs. You go to the one that offers you the greatest pleasure. We're not going to go and start poaching. A VAR makes a decision based on what community is best for his business. There are a tremendous amount of VARs out there haven't had the opportunity to be part of a VAR community. I think we can offer a few things because of our flexibility, some of the things we do in terms of business, and some of the verticals we will be working on."

Stegner said of the 125 VARs in San Antonio this week, a very small number belong to or have belonged to VTN or TechSelect. While he said he's not recruiting solution providers from the other communities, he acknowledges that he receives calls from those VARs interested in what Synnex has to offer.

"We want to make sure they see some of the ways we can increase their business in multiple fields, whether it's another vertical, or another segment of their business," Stegner said. "We will show them how to save money in their own business. Quite frankly, that has nothing to do with [sales through Synnex]. But if I can help them save on their own costs, maybe that's more business they can do with Synnex."