Strength in numbers

My father, who is a great inspiration in my life, has always supported the union movement. It’s a group that today is seen by business and others as irrelevant or which has stopped being useful.

Employers are morally and legally responsible for their workforce, and where necessary governments

have added protections such as pay equity, safety rules and workers compensation. However, my father defends unions because at their core they have strength in numbers. And when you have strength in numbers you have power and clout. You can be a 98-pound weakling and be just as swift and powerful as Muhammad Ali in his prime.

In the VAR channel, organizations such as Ingram Micro’s Venture Tech Network (VTN) enables a small reseller who does a few million in business to operate similar to reselling powerhouses such as GE ITS, Compugen, MicroAge, Xwave and SoftChoice.

Why? Because with 45 member companies, 65 locations, approximately 1,700 employees and more than 2,000 certifications VTN has strength in numbers. Collectively, VTN members did about $450 million in business last year. If they were one company that would make them second in revenue behind NexInnovations in Canada. They would be the No. 2 player on CDN’s Top 100 Solution Provider list.

All VTN members sign a code of conduct so no one undercuts another member. VTN members in Canada and the U.S. must help each other out. For example, if a network member has a client expanding out of his local community another VTN member from new community can become an extension arm for the original reseller.

Pricing levels for VTN members are all agreed upon up front, which ensures fairness. Another interesting fact about VTN is that during the IT slowdown, which saw numerous high profile VARs go out of business, only one VTN member closed shop. During that time VTN members grew their own business dramatically, according to Naomi Ashlee of OnDeck Systems Inc. and Peter McMahon of Protek Systems (two senior VTN members).

Now they want to grow to 70 members by the end of the year, said Ashlee, the president of the VTN council in Canada.

Is VTN a union? Well . . . I’m sure the folks at Ingram Micro Canada and the VTN members themselves would say no. But, do they have strength in numbers? Absolutely!

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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