KEYSTONE, Colo. — At 9,300 feet above sea level, GE Access president and CEO John Paget offered resellers some guidance on how to operate business in today’s challenging environment.

“I have it on really good authority that the world is not going to end,” Paget said, trying to lighten the crowd during his keynote address to more than 1,000 attendees at the 11th annual New Frontiers conference.

High up in the hills of Summit County, he told resellers and vendors to look beyond the current economic downturn and prepare for the IT upswing that’s inevitably coming down the road.

“The demand for IT solutions will continue to grow,” he said. Negativity surrounding the market bust and large inventory build up in the channel are short-term problems and conditions. “Rest assured, the IT solutions business will recover.”

And while there’s no magic elixir to help businesses recover he said there are some useful strategies that will take them to the other side stronger, better positioned and more competitive.

He said resellers need make selling a priority; get a handle on expenses and line up significant cash; and map out five key objectives that come directly from you and not the vendor.

“It’s not enough to stay aloft,” he said, “you have to navigate, take stock of where you are.”

Paget said GE Access has figured out its position in the market, prepared for the future and re-focused on partner relationships.

“It does matter with whom you fly. Partnerships matter now more than at any other time. And it’s reassuring to know that you can count on your partners in good times and in bad.”

The relationship between GE Access and resellers is strong, he added, partly because the company was the first Unix distributor to stock inventory, and the first to offer technical support.

Now, he said the company wants to up the ante in the area of support and offer resellers one less thing to worry about.

As such, GE Access unveiled a multi-vendor maintenance service program called OneTech. According to the company, the program offers resellers and their customers a central point for technical and maintenance support — a service contract for all hardware and software products purchased from GE Access.

According to Will Sumners, GE Access’s vice-president of enterprise solutions, the program helps resellers strengthen ties with its customers and takes the guesswork out of deciphering a problem and finding the appropriate technical team to tackle it.

The program — which is grouped into three main categories — supports solutions in the areas of storage, networking, security and e-business.

The three contracts include OneTech Direct, where users can contract GE Access’ OneTech support team directly with technical and maintenance problems; the OneTech partners program where end users contact the reseller first for all of their support issues, after which GE Access steps in where necessary; and OneTech After Hours, where resellers are the first point of contact between 6:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m., and GE Access steps in after business hours and on weekends.

Meanwhile, in related news, the distributor also announced the re-opening of its Advanced Computing Center (ACC).

The ACC is designed to give resellers the ability to benchmark, test and conduct proof-of-concept demonstrations or products and solutions, said Kate Smith, the ACC’s director of technical customer engagements.

The ACC, formerly located in Chicago, is now housed at the site of the newly renovated Advanced Solutions Development Center in Littletown, Colo., where solutions engineers customize and pre-integrate solutions for resellers and vendors, said John Heath, ACC director.

Are Canadian resellers into the ACC concept? Canadian VARs are accessing it via a virtual private network rather than visiting it in person, Smith added.

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