Panasonic Makes Sweeping Changes To U.S. Operations

"This is a change in our relationship with dealers who have traditionally been more direct with customers. We will roll in several product lines into our verticalized company structure and also into our channel structure," said Rance Poehler, who on Thursday was named president of the Panasonic Solutions Company.

For Panasonic VARs, the newly consolidated company structure is accompanied by Panasonic's newly expanded relationships with several large North American distributors. Resellers of Panasonic products will now source product through distributors such as Ingram Micro, Tech Data and Synnex, rather than dealing directly with the various Panasonic entities that formerly supplied them with video equipment and other products, Poehler said.

"We are excited by Panasonic's move to incorporate more of its products into a broader solutions set as these changes will mirror the current Panasonic Toughbook model where all the products go to market through the channel," said Bob Stegner, senior vice president of marketing for North America at Fremont, Calif.-based Synnex.

"The combination of Toughbook notebooks with projectors, displays and video will make access to these products much easier for the channel and specifically for our Synnex customers." Rival distributor Tech Data was equally bullish about Panasonic's consolidated push into distribution channels. Joe Quaglia, senior vice president of U.S. marketing for Clearwater, Fla.-based Tech Data called the formation of the Panasonic Solutions Company "an exciting development" and "one we applaud 100 percent."

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In addition to the big three distributors, Poehler said the Panasonic Solutions Company will also work with a number of select specialty distributors, "especially on the professional video side."

Poehler described the move as giving Panasonic resellers "one throat to choke" and promised it would open up opportunities for VARs selling one or another Panasonic product to start offering complete solution sets from across the company's product portfolio.

"The advantage to our channel is that they will now have access to more Panasonic solutions than they've ever had before. We will be offering multiple B-to-B solutions to our channel through our distributors," he said.

"We've been going through the channel for about 17 years. Now VARs have one throat to choke. Maybe this is just the beginning. Partners are going to get more leads from us now that we're just one company."