Distributor D&H Canada ran its sixth annual tech trade show this year, its third straight year at the Mississauga Convention Centre near its headquarters in Toronto suburb Mississauga, Ont. But it may be looking for a new venue in the near future – with 500 registered and an estimated 400 in attendance, the distributor is rapidly reaching the limits of the facility to support its mix of trade show floor and boardrooms for sponsors by event seminars.
“We always want to make it a little bigger, and this year is no exception. It’s always a fine ratio between vendors and customers,” said Greg Tobin, general manager of D&H Canada.
The event’s byline was a topic near and dear to D&H’s focus market – SMB productivity. And as always for the distributor, the company was very focused on making it a “selling show” at heart. Each of the 50 vendors in attendance were offering at least one show-specific special for resellers in attendance.
“If we can’t sell, we can’t pay the bills,” Tobin joked.
Unlike many of its peers in distribution, D&H Canada doesn’t do a distribution roadshow tour. The Toronto-area event is its flagship event of the year, although this year it did add a Montreal-area show in the spring to support the market in Quebec, and it regularly does more intimate one-town “city dinner” events, bringing a key vendor along for a dinner event with a handful of key partners in markets across Canada.
But it tempers that centricity on Toronto by bringing in a number of key resellers from across the country for the event in Mississauga, a move that was popular with vendors, particularly those who are Toronto-based and may not get out to see their resellers to the east and west as frequently as they may like.
D&H Canada Eyes New Location
The company’s trade show isn’t the only thing that might be outgrowing its current environs. Tobin confirmed the distributor will be moving out of its four-year-old current location in Mississauga within the year. Plans are well underway for a new office and warehouse location that’s twice the size of the distributor’s current facilities. While the distributor’s growth rates have cooled from the heady triple-digit numbers of its early years, Tobin said the company is still on track for a plan of 15 percent growth for its current fiscal. “And we’re well ahead of that number,” he added. “We believe there’s more than enough business and opportunities for us to continue to grow.”
Rob Eby, vice president of purchasing for the Harrisburg, Penn.-based parent company added the distributor has always believed in investing in infrastructure ahead of the curve to ensure that D&H is ready for emerging opportunity. Eby credited the flexibility of being a private company – a hot topic on the very day that Michael Dell won his long battle to take his company private – with the ability to make such decisions.
While it’s moving to a new home, the company will remain in the Mississauga area, which is popular with distributors due to its proximity to Toronto in general, and specifically the city’s transportation hubs.
Peripherals leading the way?
It’s no secret that the PC market is under pressure, and Tobin reports the exact same thing is happening for D&H Canada’s business. While SMBs – 87 percent of the company’s resellers are supporting customers of 19 seats or less – aren’t refreshing their PCs as quickly as they once did, the distributor says it’s found those customers are looking for ways to extend the lives of their machines with peripheral devices.
“The business is changing a bit – the rate of growth on the computer side is slowing down, but what’s really selling is everything that plugs into the computer. Monitors, keyboards, mice, storage, other peripherals – all of that is extremely solid for us.”
Eby said that with the Windows XP end-of-life for support still more than six months off, many smaller customers are holding on until they’re forced to make a decision to move to a more modern operating system. Assuming the economy continues to show some signs of improvement, he suggested that the channel will see “a windfall” of business users upgrading their PCs as Windows XP support reaches its end.