Symbol Seeks Channel Chief

Jan Burton, vice president of worldwide channels at Symbol, is leaving her position in April to take over as vice president of Symbol's Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) operations.

Todd Abbott, senior vice president of worldwide sales, will fill in for Burton until the Holtsville, N.Y.-based enterprise mobility products maker finds a replacement, according to Symbol CEO Sal Iannuzzi. Burton's new assignment was one of several key management changes Symbol announced last week.

Steve George, vice president and COO of BarCode ID Systems, an Atlanta-based partner who has worked closely with Burton over the past several years as a member of Symbol's advisory council, said Burton has always been a strong advocate for channel members.

"We certainly were disappointed to hear that she would no longer be working with us. At the same time, we hear that she is very excited to take on a similar role [in EMEA]," said George, who hopes her replacement will share the same vision for the channel.

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Burton's biggest asset is her ability to create a channel structure that allows partners to grow their businesses, said Gary Bowser, president of Amherst, N.H.-based Blue Ivy Solutions, which joined Symbol's partner program in 2004. "They're going to have to hire five people to replace her," he said.

During her tenure, Burton grew channel revenue from about 45 percent in 2003 to about 75 percent currently, with total channel sales surpassing $1 billion for the first time during the fourth quarter. Burton will continue to report to Abbott.

Jeff Lem, president of qData, a partner in Toronto, said Burton will help stabilize the shaky channel situation in EMEA, where Symbol partners are defecting to competitors such as Intermec. "[Burton] will restore trust and integrity to the channel just as she did in [the Americas Sales and Services division]. I don't envy her assignment, but she's the only person at Symbol that will be able to turn it around," he said.