Varnex Roundup: 8 New Initiatives To Boost Partner Support

Synnex News Roundup

Synnex recently held is Varnex conference in Orlando, Fla., where the distributor hosted about 200 VARs and more than 100 vendor executives. The Fremont, Calif.-based company and its CEO Kevin Murai (pictured) highlighted several new initiatives that are just now available or coming in the next few months. Here's a closer look at some of them, including peer groups, regional councils and the idea of a Varnex certification.

Peer Groups

Varnex has created a public sector peer group, a loosely defined group in which VARs that serve the public sector can share best practices, ask questions and perhaps form partnerships. Synnex previously created peer groups around services and marketing, which have proved successful, said Bob Stegner (pictured), Synnex's senior vice president of North American marketing.

"The [members are] really driving themselves. The services group has about 38 companies. The marketing group has about 15. They're putting processes in place around it now. They hold monthly phone calls. It's all helping them drive what they're going to do," Stegner said.

A managed print peer group could be formed by Synnex's Fall Varnex conference, Stegner said.

Regional Councils

As a further effort to increase cohesiveness beyond the peer groups, Varnex plans to establish regional councils where VARs serving the same or similar markets can meet and compare best practices as well as seek help with issues in their market.

Initially, Synnex is just suggesting that VARs form regional groups, said Synnex CEO Kevin Murai.

"The peer groups are great, but some VARs need more. You could form your own regional council and in-between bi-annual Varnex conferences; you could have a meeting in a more informal setting," Murai said. "Varnex should not be 280 resellers in the U.S. and 44 in Canada independently. Varnex needs to be known as an entity."

Varnex Certified

Synnex is exploring the creation of a "Varnex certification" for members of that solution provider community, said Murai. Under such a program, vendors would have the option of certifying the entire community at once. The idea is to get vendors to recognize Varnex as a cohesive entity and not as 300 individual solution providers, Murai said.

"We have a lot of that [certification requirement] information already. Having that prequalification info and taking it back to the manufacturer and saying here's what your certification program is, here's the reach of Varnex. We certify that at a minimum our members have this level of skill to go to market," Murai said.

Staffing Support

The Synnex Financial Services group has reached an agreement with VAR Staffing to help solution providers defray up-front costs in bringing additional resources in for a project that is paid over a longer period of time or for recurring-revenue customers.

Solution providers can leverage VAR Staffing's technical resources for a project and then pay for the resources over a 90-day period, one-third of the total at a time.

"Instead of a VAR having to pay within a net-21 or net-30 day type of environment, they can use Synnex Financial Services and lessen the impact of a cash flow hit," said Neil Medwed (pictured), director of strategy and principal at VAR Staffing.

Medwed, also president and CEO of Preferred Technology, a Richardson, Texas-based solution provider, said Synnex is taking a unique approach to helping VARs pay for renting technical resources for a recurring-revenue customer.

Wow, Canada

Synnex expects to close its acquisition of Supercom any day, which further bolsters the distributor's presence in Canada, said CEO Kevin Murai.

Synnex entered the Canadian market about 10 years ago after acquiring Merisel Canada and now has about $440 million in annual revenue coming from north of the U.S. border.

"[Supercom] gains us some excellent people, starting with the founder Frank Luk," Murai said.

Varnex University

Synnex plans to expand its Varnex University program this year, adding at least one more training session for VAR sales associates. At the Orlando show, Synnex brought several "graduates" from the first class to share their experiences.

Big Discount

Even before CRN broke the story that Lenovo was looking to buy IBM's x86 server business, Lenovo was looking to expand its business in that area with solution providers. At the Varnex show, Keith Nelson, executive director of Lenovo's Enterprise Systems Group, offered attendees the opportunity to purchase one ThinkServer RD630 for $299, more than 90 percent off the suggested retail price.