Silicon Valley Superstar Al Chien Takes VP Sales Job At Trace3
‘Most people thought it was bold of me to even ask Al to take on a position like this,’ says Trace3 General Manager Northern California Jeremy Morris. ‘I look at Al as my right hand man. I am going to learn more from him than he is going to learn from me. But it is going to be a two-way partnership.’
Al Chien, a Silicon Valley superstar who helped build Dasher Technologies into a solution provider powerhouse, is taking a job as vice president of sales, Northern California, at fast-growing solution provider Trace3.
Chien, a highly respected 35-year IT channel sales veteran, helped build the Dasher business from $27 million in 2008 when he joined as executive vice president to $175 million when he left in 2020 as president of the company. Dasher was acquired by Converge Technology in 2021.
Chien’s appointment comes with Irvine, Calif.-headquartered Trace3’s Northern California business- its most successful region- looking to grow from $450 million to $1 billion. Overall, Trace3 is looking to grow sales from $2.5 billion to $4 billion in 2026.
Chien said he was attracted to the opportunity to work side by side with Trace3 General Manager Northern California Jeremy Morris, driving sales growth at one of the top solution providers in the country.
“Jeremy and I have gone from respected competitors to comrades in arms,” he said. “I love the Trace3 story, what they are building, their willingness to invest, and their vision for growth.”
In the last year alone, Trace3 has grown by more than 30 percent and added 300 new clients.
Morris, who became general manager of the Northern California region for Trace3 in January, said he had known Chien as a formidable competitor who was widely respected in industry and even as a confidante who he had initially asked for referrals for the Trace3 job.
The more Morris thought about what Chien could bring to the table “as a mentor and partner” he was convinced that the IT veteran was the right person for the job. He saw Chien as someone with the “fire,” passion and “fuel in the tank” to help dramatically grow sales in the region from $450 million to $1 billion.
“I told Al, you and I can build this together,” he said. “We are in growth mode. I need someone who has done this in the past, someone who can bring in great talent and someone who knows the vendor community.Al sees the opportunity! He wants to grow! This is an opportunity to take a very successful team and help mold them and help them grow, bringing on additional resources to better service the Northern California region. It’s a win-win for Al and Trace3!”
Morris – a one-time principal at Groupware, which was acquired by Trace3 three years ago, said he sees the chance to learn a lot from Chien as the two grow the business together. “Frankly some people in the business might think it silly that Al is working for me because he has more experience,” he said. “But we approach it differently. Our personalities click really well…I’m going to lean on him heavily to mentor and grow some of the sales team. We’ll split vendor management and we’re going to build this thing together. It was just a natural conversation that I didn’t expect to go this way. But it clicked and I think he is buying into the vision of what we are trying to build here. The sky is the limit for us.”
Chien said he is looking forward to bringing his skills building strong relationships in the field with both top vendors and customers to the Trace3 team.
One of the keys to Dasher’s growth, in fact, was deep strategic ties to the likes of Hewlett Packard Enterprise and Aruba, Dell Technologies, Cisco and Juniper Networks.
Chien said he is excited about getting more customers to tap into the talented Trace3 engineering and technical resources. “We are one of the few strategic service providers that has lots of local engineering resources customers can count on,” he said. “That local technical expertise is a significant differentiator for Trace3. The engineering team is really impressive at Trace3.”
The buildout of the Trace3 technical team comes as a number of solution providers have tightened their belt over the course of the last year.“The quality of our technical team is unparalleled,” said Chien.
The Northern California group of Trace3 is driving growth in both its traditional data center infrastructure to a growing services, cloud and security powerhouse.
One of the company’s fastest-growing services is its FinOp cloud business which is on average saving customers 10-30 percent on their cloud bills from the likes of AWS, Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud, said Morris.
“That service is a great monthly touch point with the customers in terms of engagement, it creates trust and stickiness,” he said. “Some customers take the meetings weekly, bi-weekly or monthly, but it is a constant touch point where our engineering team is interfacing with their engineering team. It really tees up sale and leadership to have larger conversations on a consistent basis with customers.”
Trace3 is also doubling down on its traditional infrastructure business with plans to move into a new larger building in Milpitas, Calif to double down its integration and warehouse facilities.
“We are still investing in infrastructure,” said Morris. “We are not walking away from our huge hardware business. We do rack and roll builds which is unique for some partners. We bring in still a lot of compute, storage and networking. We rack, stack, cable and label it here in our office and then send out fully integrated racks globally for our customers. That is our bread and butter.”
Morris said he could not be more “thrilled” that the “stars aligned” with Chien making the decision to take the job. “Most people thought it was bold of me to even ask Al to take on a position like this,” he said. “I look at Al as my right hand man. I am going to learn more from him than he is going to learn from me. But it is going to be a two-way partnership.”
Chien, for his part, said he could not be more excited about getting back into the technology solution sales trenches. “I’m looking forward to adding value back to customers and being surrounded by quality people,” he said.