Varnex differentiator is in SMB focus, members and vendors say

There’s no doubt what is going to define the newly-launched Varnex Canada community from Synnex Canada. Group members, the distributor and vendor sponsors alike say the group’s focus on small-business customers will be its differentiator.

Finding differentiation from VentureTech Network and TechSelect, communities supported and fostered by rival distributors Ingram Micro and Tech Data is especially important for Synnex’s community due to its status as the new kid on the block. To avoid being seen as merely a “me too” organization, it’s got to have its own flavour. And that flavour is a distinctly small business one. was on hand for the debut of the Canadian contingent at the group’s Fall Conference in Las Vegas earlier this week, and caught up with various constituents to find out what will shape the community.

For Gary Sohal, president of Ancaster, Ont.-based Audcomp Computer Systems, the SMB focus was key to the decision to come out for Varnex. Sohal said that while Audcomp works with many larger customers, SMB is a tremendous growth opportunity – and one that he feels Varnex will be able to assist him reaching.

Ian Vaudry, president of Toronto-based solution provider Commerx Computer Systems, said that many of the additional services and partnerships offered to Varnex members drew him to the group – most notably a partnership with business social media software vendor Igloo Software.

“There are a lot of things inherent within Varnex that may help our business,” he said.

Vaudry added that his company is very interested in the white-label training programs offered within the community. “It further extends our reach and shows value-add on an ongoing basis,” he said.

Vendor partners of the community also expressed a sense of small business solidarity. Molly Patterson, marketing manager for reseller operations at Xerox Canada, said that focus – along with Synnex’s status as a key distribution partner – is why Xerox is on board as a founding sponsor.

“[Varnex] is a really good fit for Xerox because it’s focused on SMB, and that’s where our partner program is focused,” Patterson said.

Along with the SMB focus, Peter Lougas, channel account manager at Oki Data Canada, said his company is looking to Varnex to help it build business relationships with key resellers. “Oki is a channel-friendly organization, and this is our chance to build connections on a long-term basis,” he said.

For Jodi Bonham, IT channel manager at Eaton Power Quality Canada, a Platinum sponsor of Varnex, it’s also about getting closer to channel partners.

“Synnex plays such a strong role in the Canadian IT channel as a go-to-market distributor in the SMB space,” she said. “Being on the advisory council allows us to focus in, understand the members and their business models and understand how we can fit power management in with their business.” caught up with Tim Lomax, president of Toronto-based A&M Data, a Varnex member, and John Cammelleri, HP Canada’s channel chief, to get their thoughts on the new group.


Mike Brogan of Cedar Rapids, Iowa-based Erb’s Business Machines is the new president of the Varnex council, and said the group’s smaller size is another major differentiator for the community. “Part of [the value of Varnex] is intangible – it’s a feeling, it’s a relationship-driven kind of group,” he said.

One of his goals as council president is to continue to drive the brand deeper into both the channel and the business community at large. Brogan sees Varnex as a way of evening the playing field against often much-larger competitors.

“I compete with the big boys, and I have customers say to me all the time ‘I’m not sure you’re big enough to do this job,’” he said. “I know that’s not true. I know I can do a better job, but Varnex makes me look better to that customer, gives me the skillsets I don’t have within my four walls. I want a brand I can leverage in my market to win business, and [Varnex] can be that.”