Not every Canadian has heard of Harry Hart, but many have bought some piece of computer gear from him. Hart, chairman and CEO of Hartco LP, has been in the business 30 years and now operates the largest franchise of consumer and corporate computer outlets in Canada.

Today, Hartco’s operations span more than 90 commercial and retail locations across the country. In commercial markets, Hartco operates under the names of Metafore, MicroAge and Microserve – some of Canada’s best-known VARs – in 60 locations coast to coast. In retail markets, the CompuSmart network has more than 30 locations, serving consumers and small businesses.

Hart was the first customer in the world to purchase a copy of Lotus 1-2-3. He was also the first to bring the Apple computer into Canada. And he was the first to represent many big-name vendors, such as IBM, Compaq and HP.

“I saw it was a different business. It was very entrepreneurial and we were fast,” said Hart. “The advantage I have is I personally am not too technically oriented, I just look at it as a user [and] don’t get caught up in the technology.”

And the company is also financially strong enough to weather a storm. Last year, for example, Hartco Income Fund’s operating revenues were close to $600 million. “The weather won’t always be clear,” said Hart. “Sometimes you get a storm – if a big wind comes and you’re not strong enough, it’ll blow you away.”

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