Two western VARs show value of partnering

A Winnipeg VAR focused on mid-sized to larger customers, and a Regina-based and SMB-focused VAR whose business concentrates on services, have developed a partnership where the Saskatchewan company provides break-fix services and other support to the Winnipeg company’s Saskatchewan-based customers.

Mike Fritzlee FACT 400

Mike Fritzler, President and CEO of FACT Computers

Distributor communities like Varnex have as a part of their mission statement the fundamental importance of co-operating with other members of the community to advance the interest of all. Two Canadian VARs, from Winnipeg and Regina respectively, have been putting that philosophy into practice.

Powerland is a Winnipeg-based general reseller which has been in business for 30 years, doing business primarily within Winnipeg itself until four years ago, when they began to branch out into Saskatchewan as well. Their customers are larger by regional standards, a mix of mid-size and enterprise clients.

FACT Computers is a 26 year old company from Regina Saskatchewan which Mike Fritzler, the President and CEO, started in 1993 when he was 22. They are also a generalist VAR, doing managed services, hosting, and labour augmentation, and they have a smaller customer base that leans more to the S side of SMB.

“We are primarily a services company, and of our 27 employees, 20 are technical and others administrative, with very few sales,” Fritzler said. “We are very heavy on the technical aspect, light on the sales, and do a lot of break-fix work, including subcontracting work out of Toronto. While we dip into the enterprise at times, we don’t do a lot of it.”

The two resellers began to collaborate after Fritzler and Ashley Penner, the Powerland CEO, got to know each other through Varnex.

“We realized that even though we were both working in the Saskatchewan market, we aren’t really competitors, because we are working in different spaces in our markets,” Penner said. “Mike’s company sold services to some of the companies we sold into, so there was a good fit.”

The relationship between the two companies involves FACT Computers providing break-fix services to Powerland’s Saskatchewan-based customers.

Ashley Penner - Powerland

Ashley Penner, Powerland’s CEO

“While the relationship is informal, he has a green light to provide SMB-focused break-fix services because we don’t have feet on the street for that,” Penner said.

“In addition to providing SMB-related services for customers, we also provide them with labor augmentation on projects,” Fritzler said. “That way, he only requires a few senior staff for the project.”

Fritzler said that on another occasion, FACT Computers helped stage a new data center for a Powerland enterprise client.

“We hosted it for four months because construction wasn’t done on schedule,” he said.

The companies co-operate in other ways as well.

“If I see an RFP that I think they are well suited for, I will inform them, and we will pass ourselves or submit a joint proposal,” Fritzler said. “We have gotten a few deals together this way, although they have won more outright.”

Fritzler said that the relationship with Powerland constitutes about three per cent of FACT Computers’ total business.

“It’s not a huge percentage of the total, but it is all services, and it is significant because we are a six million dollar company,” he said. “Ultimately, it helps to keep the clients happy.”

While Powerland had done some partnering before, being part of a technology consortium of three (now two) companies that work together successfully, the FACT relationship was different both in its origin and in its structure.

“A partnership like this isn’t something that happens when two people meet at Varnex and say ‘let’s do this,” Penner said. “It requires building up the relationship first, building up that trust between C level people who have authority to do such a deal so you know it will happen. The fact that we are based in separate geos and have fundamentally different target markets is also important. If we were local competitors, it just wouldn’t work.”