Alok Sarna, the man who brought the Impulse notebook to the Canadian market is back. This time he’s teamed his company, Compal Electronics Inc. — the 2nd largest chassis manufacturer in the world — with Tech Data Canada to offer a white book product for system builders.

Sarna, Compal’s vice-president

and general manager, has established Bizcom Electronics Inc. (Canada), a wholly-owned subsidiary of Compal, which has signed a deal that will provide Tech Data Canada system builders with an unbranded laptop that can be customized for customer needs.

Compal does have its U.S. headquarters in Milpitas, Calif., but the company is better known in the Far East than in North America and Sarna wants to keep it that way. Compal builds notebooks for several of the top tier manufacturers.

“We like to have everyone know our customers,” he said. Compal, which helped Sarna produce Impulse notebooks many years ago, has built well over six million notebooks over the years, he added.

“We do not sell under our own brand. You will not see our name on a notebook. We will not create an end user brand. We are a true OEM source manufacturer,” Sarna said.

Intel Canada Ltd. will also be a partner in this Compal/Tech Data offering.

“The three of us (Compal, Tech Data and Intel) came to this understanding: We need a change,”” Sarna said. “”In this market you cannot be traditional anymore. You need not to be handcuffed. You have to adapt. Change is for the better. And, when tradition is challenged they do one of two things, stick to old traditions or make up new ones,” he added.

Bizcom has hired a sales team and account managers for this program. Tech Data wants to enable the channel to build white books, said a company official.

“The key point is (Compal) is a large stable partner that is proven in the marketplace. They have strong relationships and they found it important to work with a distributor and they engaged us,” said Ray Gonsalves, director product management purchasing at Tech Data Canada, based in Mississauga, Ont.

White books or white box notebooks have been fairly or unfairly labeled with the poor quality tag. Scandals such as the Hyperdata (a company that at one-time partnered with Intel) fiasco of a few years ago did not help system builders who wanted to try to gain a foothold in this market.

Gonsalves acknowledges the past quality issues with white books, but added that partnering with a proven manufacturer such as Compal will alleviate those quality concerns.

“For some amount of time Intel has advocated the white book channel and in order for that channel to work well they need to operate with supply chain that answers concerns of quality,” Sarna said.

“This is truly a white book rather than a CTO (configure to order) notebook. It is unbranded like buying a motherboard or chassis,” Gonsalves said.

The Compal/Tech Data program is strictly for system builders and resellers who are interested in building systems for end users.

This particular offer is for Intel-based white books only, Sarna said.

“From end user demand when you look at Centrino it is moving up the charts in demand. AMD is not on our roadmap currently. We feel that the product line touches all the bases,” Sarna added.

According to Gonsalves, there are a few ways a reseller could make big margins with this program. First, he suggests, is to compare a fully loaded tier one system to a fully loaded white book and demonstrate to the customer the advantages.

The second way is to up sell the customer with other options with additional gross profit dollars by targeting $1,500 sale rather than a $700 sale.

The third way is to sell a white book instead of white box PC or a fully loaded white book over a standard tier one system.

Tech Data, through the Web, is offering resellers standard skus for the Compal line. Resellers can either order a non-configured base chassis that includes main-board, LCD screen, keyboard, optical drive, battery and AC adapter that will ship in 48 hours or a configured system that ships in 72 hours. Components in this program include Intel processors, Seagate or Fujitsu mobile hard drives, and Kingston memory.

Integration will be free to all resellers or system builders who purchase components from Tech Data. Tech Data has a 12,000-sq. ft. facility that is ISO 9001 registered for configuration.

The Compal chassis carries a one-year warranty that can be upgraded to a three-year warranty.

Tech Data hopes to have between 75 to 100 resellers on board with this program within the first three months, Gonsalves said.

“We are really seeing this as a growth sector and it rounds out our product offering and can lead system builders into this market place,” Gonsalves said.

Sarna agreed with Gonsalves that the initial target should be about 100 resellers. “Few are buying in volume and it is more desirable to have breath and coverage and reach more markets,” Sarna added.

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