D&H sees Canada as good market for its newly established gaming and Esports unit

D&H has established a new Business Unit around their gaming components and Esports business, and while Esports has been much stronger in the U.S. then Canada to date, they see strong prospects in Canada as well.

Chris Ralston, Director of Vendor Management at D&H Distributing

SMB-focused distributor D&H Distributing has launched a “Components and Gaming” Business Unit around its esports, PC gaming, and integrated components for customized PCs and computing systems. The new business unit adds four net-new U.S.-based personnel, with the US team in Canada serving as a supporting resource to the Canadian-based components team who will carry the ball here.

“We very much see this as an extension of our components business,” said Chris Ralston, Director of Vendor Management at D&H Distributing. “Gaming is a high value target market that our components business pursues. HP and Lenovo both have their gaming brands, but hardcore gamers like to build their own systems – and this gives them ability to try and build their own.”

Four positions in the new Business Units were announced. Chris Geiser will lead the unit as Senior Director of Components and Gaming Sales. He was previously a sales director at Samsung, where he was responsible for B2B SSD sales.  Esports Sales Specialist Brandon Beyer is the senior sales specialist after Geiser. Logan Hermes, of the National Association of Collegiate Esports (NACE) is the Esports Program Manager.

Bubba Gaeddert, founder of the Varsity Esports Foundation, and the other new appointee, is more of a brand ambassador for D&H.

“Bubba was brought on to lend his expertise,” Ralston said. “He has a lot of contacts within the industry, and a lot of experience in K-12. We also white-labelled an Esports certification program he developed.” Ralston noted that Gaeddert remains Executive Director at the Varsity Esports Foundation, while also working for D&H.

All of these gentlemen are based in the United States, and will be working primarily with D&H there, begging the question of how exactly this initiative will be rolled out and managed by D&H Canada.

“In Canada, we have our own components division led by Wilson Tam and our dedicated sales team under the whole umbrella,” Ralston indicated. “The additional hires will augment our sales motion here.”

The Canadian Esports market is very different from the U.S. one however, in that it is much less well developed, particularly around the leagues and sponsored events, in comparison with the U.S.

“The Canadian market generally very much mimics the US market, but we don’t  have Esports at the college level yet in Canada,” Ralston said. “In Canada, Esports is a only a $25 million industry, and that’s mainly a hardware business.”

“We look at Esports has having three components,” said Tom Guagliardi, Vice President, Sales and Vendor Management, Canada at D&H. “One is Esports itself,

which in the US is strong in the universities and on ESPN. One is the retail side of the business – primarily vendor boxes. And one is the VAR/education side of the business that sells to educations and government. In Canada, we are lagging a little.

Ralston noted that from a consumer perspective, the video game component of Esports is actually D&H’s competition.

“Bubba will lend his expertise to help us reach these markets, so that we can give our expertise to resellers who want to build out a gaming practice,” Ralston said. “It’s a fast-growing market. Anyone selling components is looking how to sell more gaming components because they are higher margin. We help them understand the market, give them guidance, and suggest vendors to bring them on their line card. We are also trying to collaborate with gaming associations in Canada who are trying to host events.”

Ralston said that while COVID has hurt Esports’ growth, D&H thinks the Canadian prospects are good.

“We see a parallel between professional sports leagues and Esports,” Ralston said. “There is a very large community of gamers out there who will pay to see others play it at a much higher level. Everyone likes to watch people play at the highest level. It has been one of the fastest growing categories in Canada, although COVID has been a drag on the business, because you can’t really get together for an event. You can do it remotely, although sponsorship dollars are less.” He noted that there are thousands of esports leagues in Canada.

“Some of the partners who are very interested in hosting competitions are also providing equipment, and get the sponsorship rights,” Ralston said.