Brother Program Aims To Extend Channel Family

The Bridgewater, N.J.-based U.S. unit of the Japanese imaging company launched its Preferred Partner Program Jan. 1, bringing to the channel a three-tiered approach that includes financial incentives as well as technical and marketing support.

"They've been talking about it since the first quarter [of 2004]," said Jeff Burgess, president of Burgess Computers, a Northbrook, Ill.-based solution provider that took part in a late-2004 beta rollout of the program. "It was worth the wait. They really put a lot of thought and creativity into it to make it mutually beneficial."

Jason Johns, Brother's director of channel sales, said the company now has between 40 and 50 solution provider partners in North America, and he believes it can grow its channel ranks to between 300 and 400 in the next year.

The program will be layered into three tiers: a Premier level, for Brother's highest-volume solution providers; an Elite level, for solution providers that meet certain volume thresholds; and a Business level, for any solution provider that wants to resell Brother products.

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All partners in the program will be eligible for demonstration units, evaluation units, bid pricing and marketing support, among other incentives. Elite members will receive up to 4 percent back on hardware sales and an incentive rewards card that pays 5 percent on sales of certain commercial machines, Johns said. Pre- and post-sales support are available as well.

Premier partners, Johns said, will receive more intensive, customized support from Brother, in addition to other financial incentives. He said Brother remains committed to a 100 percent channel sales model.

Burgess, who has been a Brother reseller for more than four years, said the strength of the channel program lies in the different levels of support for solution providers with different needs.

"There are some things that are not for everybody, and if you're a reseller, you're not pigeonholed into anything," he said. "Or, if you happen to be one of those [solution providers] who can do a lot with their products, you get extra support from the company."