Channel veteran Roy Rivers has joined D&H, becoming the first-ever chief of the distributor advanced solutions group.
Known in the channel for roles including stays at IBM and Avnet, Rivers joins the distributor to lead a push on its top vendors. Currently, Cisco, HP Inc., and Lenovo fit under Rivers’ bailiwick with the company.
“We’re absolutely looking to pedal down growth on some of the tier-one suppliers,” Rivers said of his new role. “We’re going to advance the growth plans around those suppliers, and we’re looking at how we can continue to expand on what we’ve always done well, and take our high-touch environment to the next level.”
The distributor’s Canadian operations turned ten this summer, and is still posting significant growth numbers across the board. But Greg Tobin, general manager of D&H Canada, said that with those top-tier vendors, growth is “even north of the rest of our business,” and there’s still room for more growth
“There are a lot of opportunities, and we want to make sure we’re making the right investments now rather than later on,” Tobin said. “We’re putting the organization in place to be ready, making sure we’ve got the team and the training, and we’re working very closely with our resellers and vendors on what the needs are in the SMB space, then building plans and executing.”
Given the distributor’s history, its focus with those top vendors will be on that small and midsize space, an area where vendors and resellers alike often need more support or different types of supports from their distributor. The opportunity with HP and Lenovo in the SMB space is obvious, and the Cisco SMB play has been bolstered by D&H’s recent addition of the Meraki managed WiFi product line.
“The SMB market is something the vendors really desire to grow in. But it’s often a question of how to do it, because it’s heavy lifting — it’s educating SMB resellers on products and programs,” Tobin said.
And that’s where the distributor will focus. Another area of concentration will be on “lapsed” partners for the three main vendors — SMB-focused solution providers who may have in the past been engaged with the vendors, but for whom that area of business may have gone fallow.
“We’ll go back in, find out what happened, re-engage, re-educate, and make sure they’re incentivized to drive business on behalf of our partners,” Tobin said.
Rivers’ focus on those top vendors’ SMB business will be supported today by the breadth of the D&H team both locally in Canada, and out of the U.S. But Rivers hinted that over time, the advanced solutions group may become more fully carved-out business within the organization, with dedicated resources. The distributor has suggested that it is “going to make more investments than we ever have” in the Canadian market, as Rivers puts it, pointing to the distributor’s recent opening of a Vancouver-area facility as evidence of that investment.
“We’re leveraging what we’ve got for now, but this is a year where we’re going to make more investments than we ever have before, as we look to continue to accelerate growth,” Rivers said.
While Tobin said the advanced solutions portfolio is “pretty full” with the three names involved, Rivers hinted there may be room to expand in focus, particularly by looking at areas that any of the three vendors may play in, and that underlies what they do.
“Where we see new business opportunities, we want to look at it a little bit differently, and not just from a product perspective,” Rivers said. “Take security as an example. There’s a real need in SMB, and we’d like to look across all suppliers. I think that’s a huge opportunity. If you look at security from a solutions perspective in the SMB space, I think that’s still an untapped opportunity.”
D&H is the latest of the traditional broadline distributors to expand in a deeper and solutions-oriented way. Both Ingram Micro and Tech Data have built out their own more value-added distribution business within the broadline business, and the latter has gone as far as purchasing VAD Avnet Technology Soltuions. Likewise, Synnex maintains its higher-touch, solution-focused “Solv” business lines.