Ingram, Channel Partners Gear Up To Support Federal Market

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This year's federal government buying season is shaping up to be a barn burner, and distributors and solution providers alike are getting prepped for action.

Distributor Ingram Micro of Santa Clara, Calif., has ratcheted up its technical, sales and financial support to solution providers in preparation for the Sept. 30 end of the U.S. government's fiscal year.

"This is a key time for our partners, and we want to be there to support them," said Mike Humke, executive director of Ingram's vertical markets. "We continue to ramp up during key buying seasons."

[Related: Federal IT Market: 2013 Was Tough, But It's A New Year]

It's all hands on deck for Ingram's technical service teams, who are positioned to support a rush of solution provider orders from vendors such as IBM, HP and Cisco, Humke said.

Channel partners who sell to the federal government also will have access through Ingram to additional credit capacity and a 24/7 hotline for requests or support.

"Our goal is to give them the resources to complement their efforts," Humke said.

While the federal market is often the domain of larger solution providers, Humke said smaller partners can easily get involved if they fulfill diversity requirements, such as being a minority-owned, woman-owned, veteran-owned or service-disabled, veteran-owned business.

The federal government is pushing departments to spend 20 percent to 25 percent of allocated funds on diversity partners, he said. This creates an opening for small diversity solution providers to team up with a large partner and land a government contract, Humke said. 

Red River, a Claremont, N.H., based solution provider, has done 95 percent of its business in the federal market since opening two decades ago, said Jeff Sessions, the company's vice president of corporate strategy.

Many federal contracts come with restrictions that the government purchase from countries compliant with the Trade Agreements Act, Sessions said. Even though OEMs typically have manufacturing facilities all over the world, Sessions said Ingram is able to segment delivery based on the place of production and trade agreements.

Ingram's reach also comes in handy when federal departments request delivery of an obscure product on a moment's notice.

"We need the technical assistance at times," Sessions said. "We definitely can use the wide selection of products."

Knowledge Information Solutions (KIS), based in Virginia Beach, Va., relies on Ingram primarily to help with rapidly turning around quotes for government contracts, said company President Augustine Riolo. They've also provided technical assistance when KIS is trying to fulfill a request for a large storage array or another particularly unusual configuration, he said.

"Ingram has been very helpful," Riolo said.

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