30 Specialty Distributors Disrupting The Heavy Hitters

The Footsteps of Small Distributors Grow Louder

Beyond broadline distributors such as Ingram Micro and legacy enterprise distributors such as Avnet exists a cadre of smaller niche distributors looking to make an impression and capture market share.

Whether focusing on a small number of vendors, technology areas or vertical markets, these distributors argue that their specialization and more personalized service will enable solution providers to pull away from the pack and make more money.

CRN has taken a look at 30 of the most disruptive distributors, breaking down some of the products and services they provide, vendors they partner with and efforts they've made to differentiate themselves. Read on to learn more.

ABP Tech

Headquarters: Dallas

CEO: Robert Messer

Specialties: IP technology, phone systems, surveillance, video, infrastructure

ABP Tech primarily handles IP technology including phone systems, surveillance, video and infrastructure. It also deals with physical security, network security, Wi-Fi and digital signage. The 14-year-old distributor has many key vendors in the IP space including Cisco, Polycom, Panasonic, Canon and others. The privately owned company primarily serves the Americas and works with solution providers in more than 50 countries.


Headquarters: Philadelphia

President, COO: Warren Chaiken

Specialties: Audio/visual, consumer electronics

Almo is a distributor of professional audio/visual equipment, consumer electronics and appliances. The privately held company is partnered with a long line of manufacturers including NEC, Panasonic, Samsung, LG, Canon, Sharp and more. Almo has six large distribution spaces located around the country and specializes in professional-grade touch screens, projectors, video solutions, and other types of monitors and TVs.


Headquarters: Glenville, Ill.

CEO: Bob Eck

Specialties: Communications, physical security, small components

Anixter is a specialty distributor focused on communications, security and small components, such as electronic wire and cabling and fasteners. With more than 1,600 specialists and more than 90 technical experts on staff, Anixter says it is able to provide expertise into physical security and cabling needs, including 10 Gigabit Ethernet, wireless, fiber optic and other IP-based solutions. Some of the company's vendors include APC by Schneider Electric, Axis Communications, Emerson Network Power, Fluke Networks, Polycom and Sony.


Headquarters: Fremont, Calif.

CEO: Marcel Liang

Specialties: IT hardware and software

ASI offers a broad range of IT solutions, carrying more than 150 product lines with more than 15,000 products, including both hardware and software as well as its own line of Nspire notebooks and desktops and IQ notebook line. The $1.4 billion company has offices across the U.S., Mexico and Canada. The company says it prides itself on customer support, with a wide range of value-added services and dedicated regional account managers for every account.


Headquarters: Ramsey, N.J.

President: Bob Gallagher

Specialties: Semiconductors, cables, fasteners

AZEGO USA provides emergency sourcing for production shortages and sourcing of hard-to-find parts, including 24-hour express service for critical deliveries. Some of AZEGO's top vendors include 3M, Honeywell, Panasonic, Samsung and Western Digital. AZEGO was founded in 1972 as MGI, later become publicly traded and is now an employee-owned private company with worldwide affiliations.

BAI Distributors

Headquarters: Ocala, Fla.

Owner: Janet Bencsik

Specialties: Audio, video, physical security, lighting

BAI Distributors is a privately owned company that specializes in audio, video, security and lighting technologies. The company's partners include Atlas Sound, Electro-Voice and JBL. BAI works with solution providers in all 50 states, Puerto Rico, the Caribbean, Central and South America as well as Europe. The company says it prides itself on never selling directly and instead refers clients to a BAI solution provider in their area.


Headquarters: Hebron, Ky.

President: Steve Cuntz

Specialties: Automatic data capture, mobility, point-of-sale, RFID, digital signage, security

BlueStar is a channel-exclusive distributor for specialty electronics focusing on delivering specialized solutions for a variety of areas, such as mobility, POS, RFID, digital signage, security and more. It is also the exclusive distributor for the In-A-Box Solutions Series, which provides single SKU solutions for specific job roles, such as nurses, firefighters, restaurants, retailers, teachers and more. The company says it works to bring top-notch technical support, as well as other services, such as branding, extended warranties, financing, leasing, professional services and more. The company also offers vertical-specific solutions around health care, government and education.

Cloud Distribution

Headquarters: Reading, England

Director: Adam Davison

Specialties: Cloud, security, networking, storage

Cloud Distribution is a next generation value-added distributor that specializes in bringing new, disruptive security and networking solutions to market. Vendors are segmented into four categories: LAN and wireless, WAN, enterprise mobility and security. Some of Cloud Distribution's key vendors include A10 Networks, Aerohive, Cisco Meraki, NextGen Storage and Watchful. Cloud Distribution offers partners a variety of services and tools such as tailored vendor support launch packs, sales training, pre-sales and technical training, a virtual marketing team and more.

The Douglas Stewart Company

Headquarters: Madison, Wis.

CEO: Cheryl Rosen Weston

Specialties: Education market

The Douglas Stewart Company provides products and solutions exclusively for the education market. The distributor sells mobile learning solutions, Apple accessories, educational software, consumer electronics, office supplies and more. The company has partnerships with more than 250 manufacturers and more than 2,500 solution providers in the U.S. and Canada in addition to more than 1,000 international solution providers in 35 countries.


Headquarters: Fremont, Calif.

Specialties: Workstation graphics cards, high-performance computing solutions, software

Since 1992, Exxact has worked to establish itself as a top value-add distributor focusing on the workstation graphics cards and high-performance computing solutions market, geared toward more than 3,000 clients in the video game, film production, broadcasting, industrial design, space exploration, medical imaging markets and more. It is one of the leading suppliers of ATI FirePro and Nvidia Quadro, but also partners with key vendors such as AMD, ARM, Intel and more. In addition to distributing solutions, Exxact also manufactures high-performance computing platforms, including workstations, servers, storage and personal supercomputers.

Global Convergence

Headquarters: Oldsmar, Fla.

Chairman, CEO: Jim Bradshaw

Specialties: Network traffic visibility, voice, unified communications, storage, security

Global Convergence is a specialty distributor with achannel-centric product and services portfolio, offering everything from design to deployment in almost 100 countries. In addition to products, GCI’s suite of global IT services, ServLinkSM, helps partners with tasks such as support, management, implementation, planning and design. Vendors offered by Global Convergence include Alcatel-Lucent, Certes, Gigamon, Infosim and ThreatTrack Security. The company says it offers partners revenue-generating IT services, access to trained technical support personnel, white-labeling and global support for complex deployments and implementations.


Headquarters: St. Louis

CEO: Kathleen Mazzarella

Specialties: Supply chain management, communications, electrical, data networking

This Fortune 500 company is a private employee-owned distributor that provides communications, electrical and data networking products to thousands of solution providers across the globe in addition to providing supply chain management and logistical services. In 2014, Graybar generated $6 billion in revenue and is one of the largest employee-owned corporations in the U.S. It has more than 250 distribution centers across the country.


Headquarters: Phoenix

President: Kennet Goldsmith

Specialties: Surveillance hard drives, enterprise-class hard drives

HDSTOR is an industrial distributor of hard drives with experience supporting marketing, supply chain, product life-cycle management, and aftermarket sales and product support. In addition to the technology, HDSTOR offers marketing support and is willing to tie it into hard drive manufacturers' marketing campaigns. HDSTOR also offers sales training to partner sales reps to help them build credibility and justify the price and value proposition for the system. HDSTOR also offers advance swap programs so partners can quickly get engineering support or take care of field hard drive failures.

Info X

Headquarters: Randolph, N.J.

President: Tom Carlucci

Specialties: Storage, software, servers

Info X has since 1999 been a distributor of emerging storage technology products, focused on innovative companies in their early to midgrowth stages. That includes emerging and midmarket domestic manufacturers and software developers as well as foreign-based IT suppliers. Vendors closely aligned with Info X include EMC, Hitachi, Infortrend, Solarflare and QLogic. Info X's focus on storage and networking provides customers with pre-sale, technical support, distribution and logistics.


Headquarters: Avalon, Ohio

CEO: Dave Johnson

Specialties: Telephony, data, audio, videoconferencing, security

The distributor specializes in business telephone technology, including data, audio and videoconferencing, and security technology products. Jenne distributes products from more than 170 manufacturers including Avaya, Panasonic, AT&T, Mitel, Motorola, Samsung and RCA, giving it a diverse portfolio. The small, privately owned company has approximately 200 employees and was founded in 1986.


Headquarters: Shrewsbury, N.J.

CEO: Simon Nynens

Specialties: Software, virtualization, security, network infrastructure, application life-cycle management

Lifeboat, a subsidiary of Wayside Technology Group, is a software distributor whose reach extends as far as Africa, Asia, the Middle East, Europe and South America, in addition to North America and the Caribbean. The company covers a range of technologies including security, cloud, virtualization, networking, database infrastructure, application and life-cycle management and more. Lifeboat pulled in more than $340 million in revenue in 2014. Its major vendors include Acronis, Dell and Intel, among others.

Ma Labs

Headquarters: San Jose, Calif.

CEO: Christine Rao

Specialties: Computer components

Ma Labs is a $2 billion specialty distributor focusing on delivering computer components to more than 10,000 solution providers, system integrators and OEMs. Its portfolio includes memory, storage products, hardware components for PCs, software and consumer electronics. The distributor offers more than 20,000 SKUs from Acer, Asus, Gigabyte, LG, Logitech, Microsoft, MSI, Nvidia, Samsung, Super Talent, Toshiba and Western Digital. In addition to vendor offerings, Ma Labs said it offers offers logistics planning, strong technical support and financing options.

Next Micro

Headquarters: Sanford, Fla.

Sales Director: Shane Dharsee

Specialties: Servers, storage, networking

Next Micro was founded in 1999 and has become a partner to many of the industry’s leading resellers, system integrators, online retailers, manufacturers and distributors. Product lines of focus include ProLiant, BladeSystem and StorageWorks from HP, BladeCenter and TotalStorage from IBM and SystemX from Lenovo. Next Micro has an in-house configuration center, which offers system integration services to resellers with a quick turnaround.


Headquarters: Greenville, S.C.

CEO: Tom Boone

Specialties: VoIP

NextUSA focuses on Voice-over-IP technologies from vendor partners including Aastra, Adtran, Cisco, Digium, Netgear, Polycom and Spectralink. The distributor says its Channelware provisioning system, which simplifies and cuts back on the costs of setting up and managing equipment, helps set it apart. The company also builds custom solutions, API integrations, and offers brand development and free technical support.


Headquarters: Fairfield, Conn.

CEO: Jack Meehan

Specialties: Telecom

Novus is a distributor of legacy and IP voice and data communications technology. The privately owned company is a Microsoft Gold Partner, and supports greenfield UC deployments for Microsoft Lync. The company also partners with 20 other manufacturers including NEC, Konftel, Sennheiser, Mitel.


Headquarters: Edmond, Okla.

President: Tate Morgan

Specialties: Consumer electronics, accessories, mobility, appliance connections

Petra is a wholesale distributor of consumer electronics, electronics accessories, custom installation, mobile products, and appliance connection supplies. Petra partners with more than 500 manufacturers including AT&T, BlackBerry, Canon, Hewlett-Packard and others, and works with more than 75,000 solution providers across the country.

SED International

Headquarters: Lawrenceville, Ga.

CEO: Hesham Gad

Specialties: Computers, mobility

Since 1980, SED International has been providing IT solutions, computer systems and mobility to more than 5,000 customers across North America, Latin America and the Caribbean. Some of the distributor's key vendor partners include Seagate, SuperMicro, Hewlett-Packard and Epson. The distributor focuses primarily on SMB customers.

Sigma Software Distribution

Headquarters: Devon, England

General Manager: Jane Silk

Specialty: Software

Sigma Software Distribution said it has a portfolio of innovative software products, more than 300 publishers and a software sourcing service. Some of the major vendors offered through Sigma include Dell, Intel, Redgate, SAP and Embarcadero. Sigma has a dedicated sourcing team that can source software from thousands of vendors, saving solution providers time and resources and helping them negotiate the best price. The company also provides renewals support, including advanced renewals notification for the software that the distributor supplies to its partners.

Symmetry Electronics

Headquarters: Hawthorne, Calif.

President: Ken Davison

Specialties: Wireless, video, semiconductors

Symmetry provides services to OEMs in the machine-to-machine, medical, energy, broadcast, security and industrial verticals. Some of its key vendors are AMD, Fujitsu, Lantronix and Sapphire. Services provided by Symmetry can accelerate time to market for solution providers and include architecture definition and part selection, circuit board design, schematic and layout reviews, antenna design and matching, software development tools, custom solution design and global logistics programs. Symmetry also provides sales, logistics, design and manufacturing support.


Headquarters: Woodbury, N.Y.

President and CEO: Pat Comunale

Specialties: IP video, connectivity, intrusion, communications, home automation

Tri-Ed began serving dealers and integrators in the life safety security sector in 1982. Today, Tri-Ed is North America's largest independent security distributor with more than 60 branch locations across the U.S. and Canada. Tri-Ed features the top brands in the security marketplace, including Bosch, Netgear, Panasonic, Samsung and Toshiba. Tri-Ed's sales team, network specialists and business development managers can educate solution providers on new product offerings and applications. Tri-Ed also offers partners value-added services such as security system design and technical systems support.

United Stationers

Headquarters: Deerfield, Ill.

CEO: Cody Phipps

Specialties: Business products

United Stationers looks to provide a broad range of business products and logistical support to its solution provider customers. Some of those business product offerings include office products, office furniture, technology products, industrial products, janitor supplies and business software. Internally, the distributor says it focuses on "living its values," including social responsibility, sustainability, safety and community involvement.

Walker And Associates

Headquarters: Welcome, N.C.

CEO: Chrystie Walker Brown

Specialties: Network products

Walker and Associates is a specialty distributor focusing on networking solutions, including wireless, cable TV, network operators and more. The distributor serves residential, business and mobile users. It has more than 250 suppliers of technology, with some of its more strategic alliances including Adtran, Adva, Brocade, Ciena, Corning, Emerson Network Power, Fujitsu, Juniper, Microsemi, TE Connectivity and Telect. The distributor brings the solutions together with systems integration, custom network deployment, inventory and asset management, installation, technical support and more.

Wintec Industries

Headquarters: Milpitas, Calif.

CEO: Shu-Hui Jeng

Specialties: Peripherals and accessories, system builders, supply chain management

Wintec Industries focuses on the peripherals and accessories market, including DRAM, Flash, consumer accessories and more. While the company primarily builds and distributes its own branded solutions, it also works with NTI SK Networks and others. The company's supply chain services division helps OEMs address distribution challenges around globalization, competition, cost management and more.

Winncom Technologies

Headquarters: Solon, Ohio

CEO: Gregory Raskin

Specialty: Networking

Winncom Technologies is a worldwide distributor and provider of wireless and wired networking offerings. With its worldwide presence, Winncom is able to provide the pre-sale consulting and post-sale engineering support to its customers. The company has carried out wireless and networking deployments in North America, Eastern Europe, Eurasia, the Far East and Central Asia. Winncom's product offerings include BridgeWave Communications, Firetide, Motorola Solutions, Nomadix and Samsung Security. Winncom was founded in 1996, and now has 10,000 resellers in some 90 markets worldwide.