It was almost fitting that Canadian IT channel pioneer Harry Hart passed on the Sunday before Labour Day. The 87-year legend didn’t take too many days off during his illustrious career.
Hart, who just last year orchestrated one of the more significant solution provider deals in Canadian history with the Compugen acquisition of MetaFore, died peacefully at his country home in Quebec.
It’s quite possible that Hart had a hand in selling at least one piece of technology to every single Canadian above the age of 25.
Hart was the chairman and CEO of Hartco LP and was a recognized leader in the channel for more than 40 years. At one time Hart operated the largest franchiser of consumer and corporate computer outlets in Canada. In 2015 he divested himself of possibly his most valuable piece Metafore, a CDN Top 100 Solution Provider that placed No. 8 overall with revenues between $225-$250 million, to Compugen.
Other storefront brands he launched are Compucentre, CompuSmart and the Telephone Booth. In the solution provider channel he was a big part of Metafore, MicroAge and Northwest Digital. In distribution he ran MultiMicro.
Harry Zarek, CEO of Compugen, paid Harry Hart tribute calling him a tremendous innovator and very creative business executive.
“Credit needs to be given to him as he led a number of critical initiatives from being the first reseller of any kind of technology going back to the calculator days. He realized the resale business as a viable business opportunity and as an alternative to large vendors selling direct. He realized there was a consumer opportunity for technology. He did franchises with MicroAge,” Zarek said.
At its peak Hartco’s operations spanned more than 90 commercial and retail locations across the country. In commercial markets, Hartco operated under the names of Metafore, MicroAge and Microserve – some of Canada’s best-known VARs – in 60 locations coast-to-coast.
In retail markets, the CompuSmart network had at one time more than 30 locations, serving consumers and small businesses.
Hart was the first customer in the world to purchase a copy of Lotus 1-2-3, which was the best-selling spreadsheet software on IBM PCs. He was also the first to bring the Apple computer into Canada. And, he was the first to represent many big-name vendors, such as IBM, Compaq and HP.
“I saw it was a different business. It was very entrepreneurial and we were fast,” said Hart in a previous interview.
“The advantage I have is I personally am not too technically oriented, I just look at it as a user [and] don’t get caught up in the technology.”
Funeral service from Paperman & Sons, 3888 Jean-Talon St. W., on Tuesday, September 6 at 1:00 p.m. Burial at the Adath Israel Poale Zedek Anshei Ozeroff Congregation Cemetery, Adath Israel section, de la Savane. Shiva to be announced. Contributions in Harry’s memory may be made to the “Harry Hart Memorial Fund”, c/o the Jewish General Hospital Foundation, (514) 340-8251.