Global VAD Exclusive Group expands into U.S with Fine Tech purchase

Based in Europe, but operating in over 100 countries worldwide, Exclusive enters the U.S. for the first time. Fine Tech’s B.C.-based subsidiary is not, however, part of this deal.

Barrie Desmond, COO at Exclusive Group

Paris-based value-added distributor Exclusive Group, which operates in many countries in EMEA and APAC, is entering the North American market. They have purchased San Jose-based VAD Fine Tec, which becomes their base of operations in the U.S. James Shen, Fine Tec’s Founder, President & CEO, will become Exclusive Group’s VP, Americas once the deal is finalized.

Fine Tec also has a Canadian operation, based in Burnaby B.C. and Shen has an interest in the Canadian company as well as the U.S. one. The Exclusive Group acquisition only affects the U.S. operation at this point in time however.

Exclusive Group refers to itself as a VAST — Value-Added Services and Technologies. They are vast, with over 50 offices and a presence in over 100 countries across five continents.

“We were a VAD when we were in a couple countries,” said Barrie Desmond, COO at Exclusive Group. “Then we were called a super-VAD because we were in so many countries. Then we added on more services, and a separate distribution business around hyper-converged and web scale [BigTec]. In addition to providing all the basics of distribution, we also provide engineering, pre-sales, more demos, and a bigger ratio of engineers to sales people than other distributors. To create demand, we also do a ton of promotion.”

Ultimately, the company concluded that its growth required expansion into the U.S.

“We couldn’t claim to be global if we didn’t have a footprint in North America,” Desmond said.

One of Exclusive Group’s businesses, ITEC, is a global services organisation that provides design, implementation and support services to the channel, and they are in the U.S., with a small office in Tampa. Desmond said that ITEC isn’t a VAD, however.

“Now with Fine Tec, we have a $230 million business which is very similar in DNA and philosophy to our own business,” Desmond said.

Fine Tec’s business is focused on network security, data integrity and storage solutions. It maps well to the Exclusive Group’s Exclusive Networking business.

“Exclusive Networking is probably 90 per cent cybersecurity, and Fine Tec becomes a part of that,” Desmond indicated.

James Shen, Fine Tec’s Founder, President & CEO

“We both have very strong relationships with Fortinet,” said James Shen. “We are their number one distributor in the U.S., and Exclusive is their number one distributor worldwide.”

“We also have a very successful with Palo Alto Networks,” Desmond noted. “We also have good relationships with Imperva and Infoblox, as well as Nutanix and Rubrik. We carry vendors who are all about disrupting the status quo. We refer to ourselves as ‘ABC’ – Anyone But Cisco – and Checkpoint.”

Ultimately, Desmond said that Exclusive’s model is to offer resellers, VARs and SIs a differentiated value proposition based on a ‘grow global, stay local’ philosophy.

Once the acquisition becomes final, the plan is to gradually integrate Fine Tec into the global operation and bring up its capabilities.

“Over the next couple of months we will integrate into the Exclusive Networking business, and then look at bringing Fine Tec’s capabilities up to a global standard,” Shen said. “It will take time.”

“We will look at enhancing some things that Fine Tec overlooked because they didn’t have a global footprint, and that will take some time,” Desmond added. “We hope to double this business in two years.”