Vertical Focus Boosts Partner Fortunes

Ingram Micro SMB 500In the channel, as in life, there’s much to be said for singularity of purpose. Or as Alexander Graham Bell once put it: “The sun’s rays do not burn until brought to a focus.”

Data from the most recent Ingram Micro SMB 500 list of most successful partners clearly shows the power of specialization for solution providers. Focusing on a fertile vertical space gives partners an edge in revenues and growth, according to the SMB 500 research compiled by Ingram Micro’s Business Intelligence Center and U.S. SMB Business Unit and channel research services firm The 2112 Group, the parent company of

IM SMB 500 Solution providers serving the top five vertical markets enjoy three-year average growth in spending with Ingram Micro of 259 percent, well above the overall list average of 219 percent for partners already among the highest performing in the channel. Of those who report annual revenues to Dun and Bradstreet show 98 percent growth in three year revenues versus 88 percent for the list at large.

Leading the pack among specialized IM SMB 500 solution providers are those serving Transportation, communications and utilities with 289 percent growth over three years. That segment is followed by: retail-focused partners at 258 percent; business services at 257 percent; health care at 256 percent; and engineering, accounting, and research at 241 percent.

Info Tech Professionals of Brookfield, Wis. (#24 on the IM SMB500) is tightly focused on a few select verticals including the increasingly profitable health care IT space. The company’s strategy comes directly from CEO Paul Hager, who joined Info Tech Professionals two years ago and set about moving the firm toward managed services and into new markets.

Hager credits both his company’s dedication to serving its chosen vertical customers and its relationship with distributor, Ingram Micro, for Info Tech Professionals’ continued stellar performance. The VAR-turned-MSP has gone from a one small location to a 14-person, two-location business that is on track to take in more than $2 million in annual hardware revenues. The company landed on the IM SMB 500 by virtue of a three year growth in sales revenues of 638 percent, outpacing an already impressive field.

Hager said his firm’s metamorphosis into a focused services provider was helped significant by Ingram Micro’s willingness to back his strategy.

“The thing I’ve been most impressed with by Ingram Micro is how much time they invest in your business even before you’ve proven that you can sell IT services,” said Hager. “It was a sharp contrast with how we were treated in the past [by] larger vendors. We receive the same top-notch customer service—whether we’re buying a $400,000 HP SAN or a $400 printer or laptop.”

“Ingram Micro is much more than a distributor,” Hager added. “They are one of our most valued business partners.”

Hager and Info Tech Professionals’ success epitomizes the resellers that make up the 2012 Ingram Micro SMB 500 list, derived from the more than 20,000 U.S. solution providers and MSPs that work with Ingram Micro’s U.S. SMB Business Unit. The channel partners named to the list demonstrate a consistent, average three-year growth rate of more than 200 percent. The list also accounts for select criteria such as company size, overall technology category revenue growth and innovation with SMB business engagements.

The performance of the Ingram Micro SMB 500 is undeniably impressive: The average three-year growth is 219 percent, while average gross revenue is $15.2 million. The collective sales capacity of the Ingram Micro SMB 500 members is $6.53 billion, and the number of jobs supported by these companies is 72,150.