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VAR Roundtable: HP Is Getting Back On Track With Partners

Solution providers at D&H Distributing's New England Technology Show say HP has turned a corner this year and improved partner relations.

During a CRN VAR roundtable at D&H Distributing's New England Technology Show in Quincy, Mass., solution providers discussed their best vendor partnerships. Several HP partners in the discussion said they believe the IT giant has turned a corner and stepped up its channel effort.

"I think HP, after the leadership changes, is getting back on track," said Jay Shah, vice president of Compu-Tech in Wethersfield, Conn.

[Related: VAR Roundtable: What's Driving Sales? (Video) ]

Compu-Tech builds its own custom PCs, but the company carries HP servers. Shah said his customers like the servers, and Compu-Tech loves the enhanced partner support provided by HP. "They make very good servers," he said. "The engineering behind those products is excellent, and their documentation and product support is fantastic."

David Hodgdon, CEO of Portsmouth Computer Group in Portsmouth, N.H., said he's also seen improvement with HP. He said PCG, which is an HP premier business partner, prefers working with HP because it has a broad product stack and enables his company to get a variety of hardware from one source. "The HP [product] mix is good," Hodgdon said, "and HP loves us."

Richard Trahant, president of Land Computer in Peabody, Mass., said his company dropped its custom systems business several years ago and switched to carrying OEM hardware from HP. Despite some ups and downs recently, Trahant said HP has been a strong partner for Land Computer.

"HP and Lenovo are really the only two PC and server vendors we believe in," he said.

Not every solution provider praised the new HP. Bob Gregory, president of system builder Ocean State Computers in Providence, R.I., said he's seeing some of the same issues from HP on product pricing that he's grappled with for years. Ocean State Computers carries HP printers to complement its own custom PCs, but Gregory said he's found channel pricing for many HP products to be significantly higher than what HP offers on its own website.

"We had two different clients who found the same HP printer we were offering for $1,599 on HP's website for $1,299," said Gregory. "We can't compete with the manufacturer's direct pricing when they do things like that.

"They're not the only ones doing this," he added. "It's happening across the board with a lot of PC and printer manufacturers."

Shah said no vendor is perfect but HP has worked hard to make amends and improve its response time to address channel partner issues. "You've got to give large manufacturers a fair shake sometimes," Shah said. "Those are humongous companies, and it's very hard to manage everything."


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