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At The Top Of Their Game: The 2015 Solution Provider 500

CRN presents the 2015 Solution Provider 500 list, an annual ranking of the largest solution providers by revenue in North America.

The U.S. economy, while continuing its uneven grow-then-slow track record of recent years, grew a respectable 2.4 percent in 2014, the best year since the end of the Great Recession six years ago. And research firm IDC is forecasting that worldwide IT and telecommunications spending this year will grow 3.8 percent to $3.8 trillion. While economic uncertainty seems to have become the new normal, those two data points indicate how these are generally good times for the IT industry.

Which brings us to this year's Solution Provider 500 list, CRN's annual ranking of the largest solution providers by revenue in North America. Many of these companies, which collectively generated $303.6 billion in revenue in 2014, continue to thrive in an IT industry that's undergoing massive changes fueled by cloud, mobility and big data technologies.

Take Red River, the Claremont, N.H.-based solution provider that surged from No. 178 last year to No. 49 in this year's ranking. Jeff Sessions, corporate strategy vice president, attributes the company's rise to its focus and its never-ending efforts to move "up the stack" in the value it provides customers.

[Related: 2015 Solution Provider 500 Index]

Red River focuses on serving U.S. federal government customers and developing domain expertise that's won it jobs like last month's Navy SeaPort Enhanced IT support services contract that's worth up to $5.2 billion annually. "We don't get distracted by a lot of other stuff," Sessions said in an interview, noting the company turns down potential opportunities that don't fit its core business. "We say ’no' a lot."

As for setting the value bar, Red River has long abandoned the traditional "reseller" business model and strives to provide higher-value services for its customers. The company hires top-level engineering talent and invests in vendor certifications (it was named to this year's CRN Tech Elite list and received one of Cisco Systems' first Internet of Everything certifications). It's expanded into technology areas such as collaboration, converged infrastructure and cloud computing. And it has built up its professional services offerings and assembled thriving managed services and private cloud businesses.

FusionStorm, meanwhile, cracked the Top 50 this year, moving up five spots to No. 47. "We're investing. We're committed to growth. Our mission is to get bigger," said President and CEO Daniel Serpico in an interview. The San Francisco-based company has been growing its roster of engineers and field sales representatives, and recently spent $1 million to build an integration center in Newark, Calif.

FusionStorm's business is up across almost every brand the solution provider carries, including Cisco and EMC, according to Serpico. "Our Dell business is off the charts," he said. And with sales bookings through April up 30 percent year over year, the company's momentum has continued into this year.

Also breaking into the top 50 is Slalom Consulting, which moves up from No. 60 last year to No. 48, thanks to the Seattle-based company's 30 percent average annual growth in recent years. The company is seeing growth in information management and analytics, customer engagement, organization transformation and cloud computing, said President John Tobin in an email. Growth, of course, creates its own challenges. Slalom prides itself on its culture of employee collaboration, but that becomes more difficult as a company grows: Slalom added offices in Houston, Phoenix, London and Palo Alto, Calif., in 2014 and is opening Toronto and Philadelphia offices this year for a total of 18. "Connecting our offices together to show up as one Slalom is top of mind for us," Tobin said.

All these companies have grown organically. But some move up the Solution Provider 500 rankings through mergers and acquisitions. Denver-based Accuvant (No. 48 in 2014) merged with Overland Park, Kan.-based Fishnet Security (No. 46 in 2014) in February to create a security-focused powerhouse with the new name Optiv Security that's No. 26 this year.

As with every year, there is some churn as new companies make the list and others slip down the rankings. This year's list has 25 new companies, down from 62 newcomers last year. Given that number was as high as nearly 200 in 2011, it's a sign that the channel has reached a high level of stability.

For information on purchasing the complete Solution Provider 500 list, please contact Laurie Condon (lcondon@thechannelcompany.com) on the East Coast or Nora Uriarte (nuriarte@thechannelcompany.com) on the West Coast.

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