ASCII Group Canada merges with U.S. counterpart

A group that represents small and independent resellers north and south of the border said Thursday it has merged its operations to take advantage of economies of scale and share resources.

The ASCII Group has offices in Bethesda, Md., and Thornton, Ont., and represents about 325 members in Canada and 1,400 in the U.S.

Integration efforts began back in April when it became clear that the two sides would benefit from pooling their resources, said Jim Trueman, managing director of ASCII Canada.

“They have a full support team in the U.S. and we were somewhat duplicating that up here. They’re a much bigger machine than we are up here, so we thought it best – for members especially – to take advantage of all that they have to offer,” said Trueman.

The most discernable benefit for Canadian members is the creation of programs in Canada that were previously only available in the U.S., he said. Since April, a dozen new reseller programs have been added in Canada, including discounts with Cyberlearning, Autotask, LPI Level Platforms, N-able Technologies, Kaseya, Reflexion, WatchGuard, and Arbitech.

Other benefits will include outreach and marketing efforts, as well as sales training boot camps, which will likely be available at a future date in Toronto and Vancouver, according to Doug Young, vice-president of distribution and membership for ASCII in the U.S.

Programs will be added on both sides of the border, depending on member interest, said Young. The only non-transferable programs are credit card programs which are arranged through local issuing financial institutions.

In the last five years, ASCII has seen its membership decline approximately 15 per cent, according to Trueman.

“It’s been a tough go with growth in the last few years,” he said, attributing the losses to business slowdowns across the entire channel.

Trueman said he hopes to spark new membership by joining forces with his U.S. counterparts. “We still represent resellers across Canada that need an edge or are looking for an edge . . . Anything that can help their bottom line. That’s what we’ve always done and will continue to do,” he said.

Trueman described 80 per cent of ASCII’s members as small and medum-sized VARs, adding that programs are tailored to meet that segment’s needs.

Young agreed that the organization can best serve smaller VARs, often by putting them in touch with small IT vendors. “Where our niche is, is in providing exposure for (vendors) that may not be on the radar screen, but are good opportunities for growth,” he said, adding that small VARs are more amenable to carrying new products and less risk-averse than larger channel partners.

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