Hartco Corp. Wednesday said it will distribute Acer Canada‘s laptops, desktops and servers throughout its reseller network to address the middle market and niche customers

like education.

Hartco was already selling Acer products through its CompuSmart stores for the past 18 months, but has reached a new agreement to include MicroAge, Metafore, Northwest Digital, Microserv and Compucentre.

“”This is something that’s been in the works for some time,”” said Hartco’s director of marketing Brian Cyr. “”The root of it was that we had a few of our locations already doing business with Acer, so they actually really brought it to our attention. It really came from within, so to speak, from our resellers.””

Acer only sells through resellers and retailers, said Acer Canada general manager Terry Tomecek, so an agreement with a national player like Hartco enables the company to expand its reach. “” In many markets, Hartco or MicroAge is the largest VAR in that market. Maybe not in Toronto, but in the secondary markets. Even though they’re all independently owned, they act like a national reseller in terms of getting large accounts,”” he said.

Acer’s American operation dabbled briefly with selling direct to consumers through the Internet, but for Acer Canada, “”that was never on the cards,”” said Tomecek.

“”We’ve really embraced the channel in Canada. Our revenue, in a market last year that was probably down, was doubled in Canada,”” he said, adding that Acer’s agreement with Hartco isn’t exclusive and doesn’t supercede existing relationships with other channel partners.

The Acer products will be targeted to the small and medium enterprise (SME) market. “”We very much believe in a the Tier 1 strategy, but we really believe this will be a good complement and allow our resellers to get into some opportunities they wouldn’t previously have been able to get in to,”” said Cyr.

Customers sometimes perceive Tier 1 vendors like IBM and HP as being prohibitively expensive, regardless of the actual price. A Tier 2 vendor like Acer offers them an alternative, he said. “”We just kind of hit that middle market with the Acer product.””

The education market is another opportunity for Acer products, said Cyr, and feedback from Hartco resellers is that this market will grow over the next year. Acer is currently involved in a six-month pilot project at an Aurora, Ont., high school where students are using Acer tablet PCs.

“”The Acer product is certainly very good. Will we see mass adoption for tablet? The jury’s still out on that one, but certainly we have seen more activity in the past year,”” said Cyr.

The Acer tablet has become something of a signature product for the company, since it was the first OEM in Canada to bring a product to market based on Microsoft’s tablet operating system back in 2002.

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