Ingram Micro veteran Holly Garcia looks to channel to grow ATEN North American business

After almost two decades at Ingram Micro, Garcia takes on her first country manager role, and looks to jump start the ATEN KVM and Pro AV connectivity business by better managing their channel, and making more effective use of distribution.

Holly Garcia, Vice President and Business Unit Leader at ATEN Technology

Taiwanese-based ATEN Technology, a large-scale maker of both KVM and Pro AV connectivity solutions, has formally announced the appointment of long-time Ingram Micro executive Holly Garcia as vice president, responsible for the ATEN’s North American Business Unit. Garcia, who has now been at ATEN for a month, is responsible for all sales, marketing, product management, and channel strategy activities for ATEN in the United States and Canada.

Garcia had been at Ingram Micro since 2000, with her last position there being executive director of advanced solutions, where she was responsible for the distributor’s data center software, infrastructure, and Dell EMC business unit. Her earlier roles included director of vendor management, including the Cisco and Components Business Units, and executive director of sales for Ingram Micro’s Major Accounts organization.

So why leave Ingram Micro after spending the entire century at the same place – unusual in any industry, and particularly so in IT?

“Ingram Micro let me grow and move around a lot, and I was never shy about telling the leadership that I wanted to run a country,” Garcia told ChannelBuzz. “ATEN presented that opportunity for me. I did a lot of homework on them. They were already doing business with Ingram and at Ingram I had also worked with their competitors like TrippLite and Avocent. It kind of lined up for me, given that leading a country was a personal goal I had set for myself.”

While Garcia’s position at ATEN is not a new one, it is more focused than it has been before. ATEN also makes product under the IOGEAR brand, which goes to market primarily through the retail channel. While that was part of the ATEN country manager’s responsibility before, Garcia will be focusing purely on the ATEN business.

Garcia said that while ATEN has some significant strategic advantages in the KVM and Pro AV connectivity markets, they haven’t had the success in North America that they should. Her job is to change that.

“With ATEN’s technology, they should be growing in North America faster than they are,” Garcia said. “Their strategy has been to lead with technology, and they have had more of a niche approach towards some very key vertical markets like broadcasting, retail and hospitality.  They haven’t been that strong from a marketing perspective, however. We are one of the best-kept secrets in IT, with true manufacturing capabilities for all our products.”

Garcia said she will drive ATEN’s business by better leveraging the company’s channel than it has been used in the past. ATEN has a large channel in North America – with between 900 and 1000 active partners. However, Garcia believes that the partners have not been managed that effectively, and that better use can be made of distribution.

“Our being more niche-focused in the past has created some complexity in the business,” Garcia said. “About half of our North American business today is direct, with half of it being direct to end user, and the rest of the direct being direct to partner. To grow and scale and build leverage in your model, that doesn’t work. We will move to a 100 per cent channel model, and also streamline the way that we go to market.”

ATEN’s channel has also been managed as an amorphous blob, with no real distinction between partner types.

“The opportunity for partners here is to create segmentation and bring forward programs that are aligned to with how they work,” Garcia said. “We need to create a distinction between e-tail, DMR, VARs, and system integrators. Today, there isn’t any. I want less of this peanut butter approach, and instead to tailor support for partners based on what the specific needs are in their segments.”

An improved distribution network is also a priority. Today, Garcia says ATEN has too many distributors in North America, and isn’t getting anywhere near the value they can provide from them.

“Leveraging distribution better will let us reach more partners and make sure the ones we have will buy from us more frequently,” she said.  “We have half a dozen distribution relationships – some national, and some niche – but we have not leveraged the strong capabilities we can get from distribution. They do the logistics much better than we do. Ingram Micro, for example, has business intelligence capabilities and programs in certain partner segments we could be leveraging.”

Garcia is currently assessing the existing distribution strategy and talking with all ATEN’s present distributors. She said that despite her background, it’s not a foregone conclusion that they will make Ingram Micro the core of their distribution strategy going forward.

“I’m evaluating them all,” she said. “I was at Ingram for so long, but I don’t want to overlook possible opportunities with others who I don’t know as well. I do know that having six distributors for the amount of revenues that we do is overdistributed. We won’t have six distributors going forward.”

Garcia indicated that she has already taken steps to eliminate ATEN’s end user business in North America, and is working on getting new programs for the channel in place.

“We are redesigning our organization and staff in the U.S., and doing some hiring and some investment,” she said.

Canada also falls within Garcia’s jurisdiction, and she said that ATEN should be doing much more business in Canada than they have in the past.

“We have a tremendous opportunity in Canada,” she said. “We haven’t really shown up there in the past. We are definitely thinking about strategy from a North American perspective, particularly as a lot of our relationships extend into Canada.”

Garcia said that partners shouldn’t have to wait too long to see significant changes to ATEN’s North American strategy.

“Stay tuned,” she said. “You will see a lot of great things from ATEN North America in 2018.”