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Talking with Robert Stegner, Senior Vice President, Marketing, North America, SYNNEX Corporation

By: Richard “Zippy” Grigonis

In September 2007, Robert Stegner joined SYNNEX (News - Alert), a major business process services company that distributes products from more than 100 world-class IT OEM suppliers to 15,000+ resellers in the U.S., Canada and Mexico. SYNNEX also provides outsourcing services in IT distribution, contract assembly, logistics management and business process outsourcing. Stegner has over 18 years of progressive channel marketing/sales management experience. He most recently served as VP of Worldwide Market Development for Ingram Micro (News - Alert) Inc.

Synnex was founded in 1980 by Bob Huang as COMPAC Microelectronics. It was originally a distributor to small and medium-sized VARs. The enormous MiTAC Corporation, Taiwan’s largest “3C” (Computer, Communication, Consumer electronics) distributor with over 10,000 dealers, bought a majority stake in 1992 and the company changed its name to SYNNEX Information Technologies, Inc. in 1994. In March, 1995, subsidiary distribution companies in Japan, Mexico and the U.K. were established to expand SYNNEX’s international operations. In 1996 the Eastern U.S. sales office appeared in Greenville, South Carolina. In April 1998, SYNNEX began assembling IBM (News - Alert) PC workstations, notebooks, and servers under the IBM Authorized Assembly Program. SYNNEX again expanded its channel assembly offerings in August 1998, with the HP Vectra models, in addition to the HP Brio PCs. Indeed, Yours Truly once worked with an HP Vectra assembled at SYNNEX, and I still own a mighty 7U high, 20-slot MCH-702 rackmount computer from MiTAC that I received in late 1999 shortly after I toured their Fremont, California headquarters and assembly plant. Shortly after that it was decided that there should be one brand name for the U.S. market, and so the product names were switched over to the SYNNEX brand.

Today the company, known as SYNNEX Corporation, distributes products in categories such as IT systems, peripherals, system components, software and networking. Their key suppliers include HP, IBM, Intel, Seagate, Microsoft, Lenovo (News - Alert) and many other famous manufacturers. SYNNEX has 13 distribution centers, situated strategically throughout the U.S. In 2007, their consolidated worldwide revenue was $7.0 billion. I recently caught up with Bob Stegner of SYNNEX and discussed the challenge of offering solutions in a world of converging communications.

RG: Does the SYNNEX Converged Solutions Group offer a “one-stop shop” environment and any “handholding” services?

RS: Yes, at SYNNEX, we design, complete and integrate solutions with demonstrated success in business development and market share growth. We perform services that can supplement VAR programs and capabilities. We create the right opportunities that empower our partners. We cultivate personal relationships that nurture and build your business.

Our Technology Experts assist the VAR with pricing, proof of concept, and connecting to the appropriate vendor resource, determining market positioning, education and help mask the complexity of understanding the solution and manufacturer.

RG: Are convergence solutions more difficult to deal with than older circuit-switched/ computer telephony solutions?

RS: SYNNEX feels that the answer to this question is mixed. On one hand, it makes total sense to simply treat voice as another form of data, and provide one, seamless, converged network. The cost of transporting data declines as volumes increase, and Quality of Service (QoS) questions are being answered. Data Network Vendors and PC Applications Providers have been driving convergence very heavily, as evidenced by industry leaders such as Microsoft and Cisco (News - Alert). Even traditional telecom vendors have added momentum to this space, mostly through the acquisition of VoIP technologies. The amount of momentum and focus that is being placed on convergence will make converged solutions less and less difficult over time, and as the technology is fully embraced by mainstream business. However, it has long been understood that converged solutions do not start from a “clean slate”. Traditional telephony companies have made significant investments in the circuit-switched infrastructure. Much of their revenue stream is tied tightly to that same infrastructure. This has caused the most difficulty, when deploying converged solutions: integration upon an older circuit-switched/computer telephony solution, while trying to move to a truly converged data and voice network. This transition period of change has caused the most challenge, as all involved will scramble to move forward, while still holding on to their core base of business. As a result, we are currently seeing a large amount of “hybrid” voice solutions, which are bridging this evolution. As the traditional telephony vendors change, through acquisition and product development, they will meet up with the Data Network Vendors for a “cleaner” converged solution.

RG: Do you focus on small and medium sized organizations, or both?

RS: Both.

RG: Are convergence solutions a sizable part of your business?

RS: It’s 40 percent of our total ICG [Integrated Communications Group] business. Of course, SYNNEX offers many solutions, ranging from data to voice and network security products. Our Networking Business Unit focuses on telephony, networking, storage, and mobile solutions, and provides everything from development support to training to logistics management. Our converged communication solutions include IP telephony, PBX (News - Alert) and key systems, VoIP, conferencing, collaboration, and telecom connectivity. Our team of networking specialists also provide various forms of services support such as site surveys, networks assessments, installation and implementation, wireless network installations, and so forth.

We have a huge team of experts who can design customized, scalable telephony solutions and converged VoIP and data systems to satisfy the customer needs of any reseller. Our Preferred Partner Program in this area is quite popular, since the participating partners gain access to a broad range of training, sales support, and financial resources. We have relationships with ISVs who can create any application needed by a reseller’s customer, and our integration services department that can outfit any product with customized settings and software. We can even provide training manuals and sales support, including lead generation, appointment setting, and pre- and post-sale consultations.

RG: Is security more of a concern with convergence technologies?

RS: Network security has always been an important customer concern. Organizations of all types and sizes are now subject to external attacks such as Denial of Service [DoS], phishing and other ingenious forms of disruption and intrusion. As convergence technologies such as VoIP become commonplace even for SMBs, everyone now realizes that they must come to grips with the need to deploy such things as hardware and software firewalls, VPNs, and intrusion detection and prevention systems to combat any possible threat to their business. Fortunately, our experts at SYNNEX can custom-design high-quality, scalable, and affordable Network Security solutions. We have great expertise and a robust solutions portfolio involving network intrusion prevention, firewalls and gateway security, anti-SPAM and anti-spyware software, content filtering, patchwork messaging, secure routers and switches, network storage, and so forth.

RG: If a reseller wants to expand their convergence sales by dealing with SYNNEX, who do they contact?

RS: For starters they can visit Keep in mind that we can customize complete and flexible financial packages so a reseller can take advantage of opportunities as they come along. And our experienced sales team loves to help OEMs and resellers achieve higher gross profit margins. IT

Richard Grigonis is Executive Editor of TMC (News - Alert)’s IP Communications Group.

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