10 VARs Who Stood The Test Of Time, And How They Did It

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Joe Mertens

President, Sirius Computer Solutions

San Antonio, Texas
Founded: 1980

We always reinvest in the business. We’re not pulling cash out of the business every year. A lot of partners, I’ve seen operate the business as a personal piggy bank. When times are tough, we have ability to double down. We have the balance sheet to support the tough times. That’s served us well. When economic times are tough, we’re very focused on our [days sales outstanding], how well we collect money from our customers, and what is the true credit worthiness of our customers. Good customers in the past, they may [now] have their own economic hardships. We don’t want to become part of that problem. We make sure we focus on creditworthiness of customers, examine what their current situation looks like.

Another thing we do which may seem counter-intuitive is focus on watching costs, not just during difficult times but all the time. We've used down times to reinvest in people. There are a lot of opportunities when firms are laying off. If you have a strong balance sheet and are willing to invest, you can improve your hand by adding quality people. Certainly we’ve done that in the last [recession] and we did it during the whole dot-com bust. When we came out of the dot-com [era], we really grew the business quickly.

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