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Acer America
Acer America Corp. is a computer manufacturer of business and consumer PCs, notebooks, ultrabooks, projectors, servers, and storage products.


333 West San Carlos Street
San Jose, California 95110
United States


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October 30, 2020 |

Tech Data’s New Americas Endpoint Solutions Chief Sees Promise in Cloud, 5G, and Windows 10 Upgrades

Speaking with ChannelPro three weeks into his new job, Sammy Kinlaw (pictured) called prior channel-facing roles with Lexmark, Lenovo, and IBM great preparation for a job that involves helping VARs and vendors connect.

Three weeks into his new job at Tech Data, Sammy Kinlaw feels almost perfectly situated to help VARs and vendors navigate unprecedented times.

Officially named Tech Data’s senior vice president of endpoint solutions for the Americas a month ago, Kinlaw spent the last three years at Lexmark as vice president of channel and OEM sales. That followed 13 years at Lenovo, where his final title was vice president of North America channel and U.S. SMB, and a previous stint at IBM. All of that experience, Kinlaw believes, puts him in a great position to perform a distributor’s traditional task of playing match maker between vendors and VARs.

“I’ve had the opportunity to run server businesses, print businesses, and PC businesses, and they all link,” Kinlaw says. “I think I can serve a VAR and vendor in some new ways.”

The immediate opportunity for VARs, he continues, is steering them toward the biggest current and emerging endpoint-related markets. Those mostly revolve around services for hardware resellers and around hardware for service providers—especially as businesses continue to snap up laptops, webcams, and other gear for their now home-based employees.

“MSPs who previously only did services and frankly didn’t want to do hardware are now dipping their toes into the hardware space,” Kinlaw notes. “I want to make sure that we’re laying out in a digestible way what those benefit statements are from an Acer to an Apple to a Dell to a Lexmark, because each of them have unique things that they bring to market.”

Job number one on the vendor side of Kinlaw’s new responsibilities, meanwhile, is making introductions to appropriate VARs, drawing on the storehouse of sales and skill set knowledge possessed by Tech Data’s salesforce and partner reps. 

“They know which VARs are focused on which products. They know which VARs are focused on which verticals. They know which VARs are selling solutions and which VARs are not,” Kinlaw says. “If you can connect all those dots with a vendor community, once you understand their goals, then I would say that’s a golden ticket.”

Though still acclimating himself to his new role, Kinlaw sees promise for both VARs and vendors already in solutions that combine hardware with online applications and infrastructure. That’s an opportunity he first became aware of when his previous employer introduced Lexmark Cloud Services, which helps printer owners update firmware, track toner consumption, and more.

“It was an awakening for me, which I’m using today in the Tech Data world to better link not just cloud with print, but cloud with PC,” Kinlaw says.

Endpoint solutions and cloud computing are two of four strategic focus areas for Tech Data, along with security and the Internet of Things.

Forging go-to-market strategies with telecommunication firms and mobile carriers around 5G networking is another near-term priority. With 5G rapidly moving off of roadmaps and into production, sales of “always connected devices” are poised for take-off, according to Kinlaw. “You’re not talking small numbers,” he predicts. “You’re talking hundreds of thousands of devices that could be incremental for year-on-year growth for us.”

Don’t discount plain old PC refreshes either, Kinlaw adds. Though extended support for Microsoft’s Windows 7 operating system ended in January, plenty of businesses are still running it.

“The Microsoft data that I saw this week astounded me, the number of Windows 7 devices still in usage just in North America alone,” Kinlaw says. “There’s more work to be done with communication on why you should move up the stack and perhaps what it means to buy not just an entry-level PC.”

There’s further work ahead in helping partners of all kinds through the ongoing coronavirus pandemic as well, he continues. “Working in a COVID environment, a vendor and a VAR partner need more things out of distribution,” Kinlaw notes, adding that extra financing assistance is one of them. “Everybody in these new environments is compressed or squeezed for capex and opex, and distribution has the capability to step in and alleviate those pain points.”

Though coping with COVID-19 has been no picnic for Tech Data or its partners, the financial repercussions for the endpoint business have been positive. “It’s been a fantastic year,” Kinlaw says. “We certainly saw and recognized double digit growth.” Tech Data expects sales to remain strong well into 2021, moreover, “even after the boon of what happened in 2020, so that’s saying a lot,” Kinlaw notes.

The only headwind that could get in the way are the supply chain backlogs Tech Data, like other distributors, has been facing for months. Those continue to affect numerous product categories, but may be set to ease in the fourth quarter of 2020 and first quarter of next year. “We’re getting indicators from the major vendors that they are recovering,” Kinlaw says.

The endpoint solutions group will be ready to capitalize on that recovery when it occurs, he insists. “There’s still work to be done, but the talent is there, the offerings are there, [and] the structure is there.”

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