Ingram Courts Apple Specialists

"This will give VentureTech a service arm for Apple," said Bob Stegner, vice president of U.S. channel marketing at Ingram Micro. "If I'm a [VentureTech Network] member now and I have a customer that has Apple as a part of their operations, chances are I have not been able to service them before. Now I will be able to partner with an Apple Specialist."

>> Several Apple execs will be on hand to discuss issues at the VentureTech conference this week.

The Santa Ana, Calif.-based distributor has gone to great lengths to attract Apple Specialists, in addition to the all-expenses-paid trip to Las Vegas they'll receive this week.

VentureTech has created a Mac Track for Apple-focused solution providers, and several Apple executives will be on hand to discuss business issues at the conference, including John Brandon, vice president of the Americas and Asia-Pacific.

Stegner said the participating Apple Specialists will have a chance to learn better business processes and also share information among themselves. "Partnering among each other is one of our strengths," he said.

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Some Apple Specialists are receptive to discussing potential partnerships with VentureTech members, but they are also concerned about any potential disruptions to their customer relationships, said Kevin Langdon, known as the "fearless leader" of Crywolf Computers, a San Diego-based Apple Specialist who is also director of the Apple Specialist Marketing Co-Op, a group of about 90 Apple Specialists.

"Apple Specialists are looking for ways to grow our business," said Langdon. "We hope to find new opportunities in VentureTech. The bottom line is if it is good for Specialists, if there's something compelling, we will join."

But, according to one solution provider who asked not to be named, VentureTech is not likely to attract the largest Apple Specialists because it requires that solution providers purchase 75 percent of their products from Ingram Micro. Larger Apple Specialists purchase directly from Apple at prices that Ingram Micro is unlikely to match, according to the solution provider.