Tech Pacific will no longer distribute Compaq or Novell products in Australia. Although TechPac "inherited" the Compaq and Novell distributorships following its buyout of Merisel, both manufacturers have elected to pursue other distribution arrangements. Compaq will use a network of regional distributors; Novell's sole Australian distributor is now Com Tech.
Compaq managing director Ian Penman confirms the number-one rated PC manufacturer will forgo a national distributor. Instead, Compaq will rely on its network of state and regional distributors: Dicker Data in New South Wales, Company 29 in Victoria and Tasmania, Hitech in South Australia and Q*Soft in Queensland.
Penman says Compaq has preferred to concentrate on its relationship with regional distributors all along. However, when some of those smaller outfits initially failed to deliver the level of performance Compaq expected, the company went with Merisel.
"With the exception of Dicker Data, our local champions [Compaq-speak for regional distributors] started slowly, so we began working with Merisel," Penman said. "Since then, the local champions have come on strong and we've been very pleased with their performance."
Penman indicates the preferential treatment Compaq receives from regional distributors was a key factor in the company's decision to sever ties with TechPac. "I don't want to be product number 4,552," he said. "For most of our local distributors, we are their number-one source of business."
Likewise, Novell has severed ties with TechPac. "I think it's fair to say we have a very high regard for TechPac, but we believe that by focusing all of our resources on one distributor we will be able to enhance the quality of service we deliver to our customers," said Nick Jackson, Novell channels manager.
Jackson says the Novell/Com Tech combination is a good fit. "Com Tech generally only partners with companies who are the market leader in their chosen field. The sole relationship they'll have with Novell is very much in keeping with the sole relationships they have with Netscape, Bay Networks, PictureTel and Ascend," he said. "Although Com Tech has chosen a strategy that limits the number of vendors they support, that strategy provides them with a synergy between related products."
Moreover, Jackson says the Novell/Com Tech relationship is hardly an untested one. "If you look at our traditional channel distribution, it was an 80/20 split, with Com Tech accounting for about 80 per cent of sales and Merisel 20 per cent. After a lot of internal discussion - and discussion with our reseller base - it became clear that focusing on our key distribution relationship was the way to go."
Novell reseller George Neophytou, technical sales and marketing manager of Sydney-based Connections, adds another dimension to Novell's decision. "We've worked with TechPac for a long time and they're very Microsoft-oriented. That makes it rather difficult for them to distribute the Novell product range," he said.
"At the moment I think it's probably too hard for Novell to pick a second distributor. There isn't anyone who's an obvious choice," Neophytou said. "They may let the market settle down a bit and, in the meantime, Com Tech will have an exclusive. I'd be surprised if it stays that way, though."