Laval, Que – The ballroom at the Sheraton Hotel in Laval, Que. was dark safe for the stage and two lower-case m’s circumscribed in green and blue circles lighting up the walls.
A man of average height and build, dark short hair and gray suit took to the podium. The suit was a different look for the man – just hours before he was donning a bright red polo shirt with his company’s name “Millenium Micro.”
“We’ve done it,” Carl Paquin said, almost hurriedly. There was no lead up, no indication that an announcement was in store. After all, the president of Canada’s largest IT buyer group had had all weekend to make it. By Saturday night, the over 700 attendees of the company’s annual convention, who had sat through presentations, training sessions, and spent a good part of the day exhibiting their own products just wanted a good meal and some light entertainment. But Paquin wanted to share the reason for this weekend’s celebration.
“We are now in every province and territory across Canada,” he continued. A map of the country flashed across two giant screens in the ballroom, and were quickly populated by dozens of lowercase m’s in green and blue circles.
After 12 years in operation, the reseller, vendor and solution provider collective had achieved what had been Paquin’s personal dream since he was vice president of the company, he said, at least for the most part.
“The only province we can’t seem to find someone in is Nunavut.” he lamented, when I sat down with him and Chris Melanson, the company’s director for Ontario & Western Canada, earlier during the trade show. At the time, both men were still wearing those red polos.
That is not to say it’s “mission accomplished” for Millenium Micro, however. The group admits that for its home and early markets of Quebec and the Maritimes, the market is saturated.
“Often when we’re in a small community, we only sign one or two dealers depending on their skills so they are not competing with each other within our group,” Melanson said. “We provide that kind of exclusivity.”
One market that Melanson wants to grow is Western Canada, with Calgary in particular at the top of his list. The company, in an effort to recruit, launched both TV and facebook campaigns this past year.
“Other than that, we’re from Victoria, BC all the way to the east coast,” Melanson said.
The growth in coverage, of course, translates into more group members as well. As of 2015, Millenium Micro is made up of 269 independent resellers with over 300 locations. Its members range from some of the industry’s largest players like Lenovo to what Melanson describes as two to three-person shops.
Its most obvious purpose, one that the company shies away from pushing, is to provide its members with buying power when it comes to suppliers, securing them lower prices and higher channel tier benefits than they would be able to access based on individual sales.
Altogether the group accounts for $400 to $500 million in annual sales.
With the company going national, however, it’s given itself two new purposes. The first is best explained by Mourad Smaali, Millenium’s director of national market development, a new role that the company had him fill only three weeks ago.
Imagine if a reseller was approached by an established client to implement a solution across the entire business. The reseller is small while the client has locations in multiple cities. Now, the client has to find someone else in the other locations to do the same, meaning juggling multiple contracts, possibly with varied results.
Rather than approach individual resellers, Millenium Micro wants these clients to come to them, who would coordinate service across the country, based on partners’ competencies, while compensating the dealer that generated the lead.
This is no easy undertaking, however. According to Paquin, it will require the company building its own CRM that also tracks its members based on competencies and certifications. It will also involve pushing its partners to achieve these certifications in order to go after verticals – its second new purpose – broken down between government, education, hospitals, and private businesses.
The “national program”, for a lack of a better name, is slated for April 1, 2016, with a trial phase first in the province of Quebec.
“We’re like a big family,” Paquin said. “No single dealer can do everything. With our national program, they will have a whole team to help them go after the national market.”