Solution Provider Spins Out Dell Business To Create New VAR

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Great Lakes Computer, a 27-year-old Grand Rapids, Mich.-based solution provider, has spun off its Dell business into a new company, Optio Data, that will now compete against its former self.

The business was spun out into a new Dell reseller company in part to increase the confidence in Dell's direct team to work more closely with Optio Data, said Jeff Stevens, vice president of sales at Optio Data. Great Lakes Computer also sells Hewlett-Packard, IBM and Oracle platforms.

"This [spinoff] allows our organization to be pure from a Dell perspective. If I'm Dell, which has a traditional direct model, how confident will you be working with a partner and worried they're not going to flip [an opportunity] over to HP?" Stevens said. "Part of the reason we commit to Dell, as a manufacturer, is if you bring us into an opportunity or work jointly, we have to make sure Dell wins. This way, if Dell doesn't win, Optio Data doesn't win."


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Having the confidence of Dell's direct sales team was especially important in the SMB and education markets that Optio Data serves, Stevens said.

The new VAR, also based in Grand Rapids, brings 30 employees over from Great Lakes Computer and is completely separate from its former company, Stevens added.

"I can guarantee that months or years from now [we will compete with Great Lakes]. We will try to win. We did that intentionally so that there's no [misrepresentation] in the marketplace. We don't want customers to wonder if it's Great Lakes or Optio, HP or Dell. They're completely separate organizations and this allows each organization to grow and market and do what each entity does best," Stevens said.

The Dell business under Great Lakes was growing faster than HP, IBM or Oracle since the company became a Dell partner in 2009.

"From just a sheer percentage, when you go from zero to any transaction, you [grow]. But, 30 people on our staff should tell you we're much bigger than [a company with a small base]," Stevens said. "If we didn't feel this would be a successful venture and that there was enough momentum behind this business unit, we wouldn't have made the decision to spin off."

NEXT: Optio Data's Partner Status, Offerings

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