The Long And Winding Road: How Network Hardware Resale Transformed Into Curvature

Network Hardware Resale's New Look

A lot has changed since Network Hardware Resale got its start in 1986.

While its roots are still in selling pre-owned network hardware from Cisco Systems, Network Hardware Resale -- which in July rebranded as Curvature -- is now positioning itself as an end-to-end infrastructure solution provider. And, as part of that transformation, the company has significantly broadened its OEM portfolio beyond Cisco, now sells new equipment in the server and storage markets, and has decided to sell its own version of Cisco's SmartNet service, called NetSure, through the channel.

But how did the company formerly known as Network Hardware Resale grow into Curvature? Here's a look back at Network Hardware Resale's history, its growth and how that change came to be.

Modest Beginnings

Like most great tech companies, Network Hardware Resale was born in a garage.

In 1986, co-founder Chuck Sheldon (the father of current CEO Mike Sheldon) starting buying and reselling used modems and mainframes. According to Santa Barbara, Calif., newspaper The Independent, Sheldon was selling the equipment as a sort of side gig to his full-time job in sales at IBM.

In 1989, Chuck founded Strand Computer Resale in Hermosa Beach, Calif., and, in 1994, his son, John Sheldon, became employee number two. The company relocated to Santa Barbara one year later, opened its first "fulfillment center" in John's garage, and shifted its focus to Cisco.

The 'Famous Red Couch'

With revenue exceeding $1 million, Strand Computer Resale in 1996 was renamed Network Hardware Resale (NHR) and the company's first corporate logo was born.

NHR also opened its first corporate office in 1996 in Goleta, a city in Southern Santa Barbara County. A year later, the group, now five employees strong, moved into a new, 1,500-square-foot facility in Goleta, which housed what it calls the "famous red coach" that Chuck slept on every night for a year, only heading home for the weekends.

A Family Affair

By the year 2000, NHR's revenue exceeded $20 million. The company also made its debut on Inc. Magazine's list of the 500 Fastest Growing Privately Held Companies in the U.S.

After migrating to a larger, 10,000-square-foot facility in Goleta, Chuck's son and current CEO Mike Sheldon (pictured), along with Mike's wife, Nancy, joined the NHR sales team in 2001. The company's employee count that year reached 25.

NHR Goes Overseas

Riding several years of solid growth, NHR in 2002 opened a new facility in Amsterdam, which served as a testing lab, a fulfillment center and the company's new European headquarters.

In 2003, NHR's revenue exceeded $50 million and its growth prompted it to move again, this time to a 30,000-square-foot facility equipped with a new testing and order fulfillment center, the following year.

Also in 2004, NHR unveiled its one-year warranty program on all networking equipment sold, which served as a precursor, of sorts, to its current NetSure service.


Passing Of The Torch

NHR's momentum continued in 2005, with the company opening a new sales office in Hoboken, N.J., its employee headcount surpassing 100, and its annual revenue exceeding $100 million.

In December 2005, just two days after receiving $50.5 million in funding from Allied Capital, NHR named Mike Sheldon its new CEO. Chuck Sheldon stayed with the company as chairman of its board of directors.

Mike Sheldon, an MIT graduate who started his career in investment banking with UBS and Barclay Capital, had previously served as NHR's vice president of sales.

"I am in the enviable position of assuming the leadership of an exceptional company that is already extremely successful," Sheldon said in a statement when he was appointed CEO. "My goal is to continue the culture of integrity, extraordinary service and unwavering commitment to our customers that has made NHR a standout in the pre-owned equipment market."

NetSure Is Born

Between 2007 and 2008, NHR's global expansion continued in full force, with the company opening up its APAC headquarters in Singapore, along with a new sales office in London.

More notably, though, 2008 marked the arrival of NetSure, NHR's homegrown alternative to Cisco's SmartNet service. Apart from revolutionizing the concept of buying maintenance and service contracts from somebody other than an OEM, the launch of NetSure suggested NHR was expanding its reach beyond pre-owned hardware and into the services market.

In 2008, NHR's revenue climbed to more than $185 million, and the company made its debut on CRN's Solution Provider 500 list.

NHR Sharpens Its Focus On Services

After closing 2010 with record revenue of $220 million, NHR continued to turn its attention to services, rolling out a 24-by-7, follow-the-sun TAC service that is now the backbone of NetSure.

NHR, meanwhile, continued its climb up CRN's Solution Provider 500 list, cracking the top 100 and landing at No. 91.

NHR Branches Out

Between 2012 and 2013, it became clear that NHR's focus was broadening beyond Cisco. The company forged new partnerships with companies including Dell and Arista Networks and started to sell optical transceivers under its own brand.

Curvature Is Unveiled

In a change it called long overdue, Network Hardware Resale in July 2014 rebranded itself as Curvature.

It was a change, the company said, that reflected its transformation from a pure reseller of network hardware -- and, really, of Cisco's network hardware -- into an end-to-end infrastructure and services solution provider. In a recent interview with CRN, Curvature said just five years ago roughly 95 percent of its total revenue came from sales of Cisco gear. Today, that number is 75 percent.

As part of its makeover, Curvature is shifting some of its business indirect, opening up what it calls its "highly disruptive" NetSure service to the Cisco channel. Partners have already expressed an interest; last month, master agent and connectivity services distributor WTG signed on with Curvature, and said it will offer NetSure to its more 1,000 solution provider partners.