D&H has formed a new Components and Gaming Business Unit dedicated to the esports, PC gaming, and custom system components markets.
The new organization will amplify the distributor’s longstanding focus on all three opportunities, according to Peter DiMarco, vice president of VAR sales at D&H.
“It’s a business that we’ve been in for the last 30-plus years,” he says. “This just gives us added resources so that we can deliver solutions faster and help our customers grow faster and more effectively as well.”
The new unit will be led by Chris Geiser, who joins D&H following 11 years in a variety of marketing, business development, and partner-facing roles at Samsung that involved extensive interaction with system builders, integrators, software vendors, and OEMs. The deep familiarity with both the gaming and components channels that Geiser acquired in those jobs, DiMarco says, positions him to help D&H identify and act on trends and opportunities more rapidly.
“He can work intimately with the leaders of the product teams, the leaders of the marketing and even finance and our inventory management teams to come up with a very specific strategy to improve our time to market versus what we’ve had in the past.”
Geiser’s team will provide pre- and post-sales support in the U.S. and Canada on esports and gaming deals, develop as-a-service solutions, and offer design and deployment assistance via the professional services organization D&H launched last year. It will also collaborate with D&H’s pro AV business unit on solutions involving video walls and large-panel displays.
Newly hired members of Geiser’s leadership team include Senior Sales Specialist Brandon Beyer, Esports Program Manager Logan Hermes, and Esports Ambassador Bubba Gaeddert, who is also executive director and founder of the Varsity Esports Foundation. Gaeddert partnered with D&H and others to launch the channel’s first esports partner certification program last summer. His new duties will include working with vendors to create esports solutions and helping partners close esports business in the education vertical and beyond.
“One of our resellers can get on a call with Bubba and that superintendent or that CTO at the school district and talk about the gaming esports marketplace and really help them build a strategy from scratch,” DiMarco says.
D&H’s components and gaming unit arrives amid skyrocketing growth in esports. Global spending on esports products and services increased fivefold between 2014 and 2019 from $194 million to $980 million, according to consultancy PwC, which expects outlays to climb at an 18.3% CAGR through 2023 to almost $1.8 billion.
That momentum slowed somewhat last year when schools sent students home in response to the coronavirus pandemic, according to DiMarco, but has begun reviving more recently as district leaders prepare for a new academic year expected to include far more in-person instruction and after-school programs. “Over the last 90 days, there has been significant interest and an uptick in activity in esports,” he says.
Geiser agrees. “The amount of interest that we’re getting from a lot of the partners and a lot of the end customers in the school districts that are trying to build these programs is just off the charts,” he says.
There is much more additional demand to come, according to D&H, which says that only 10% of K-12 schools compete in varsity-level esports tournaments at present.
Meanwhile, the same lockdowns that stalled growth in esports accelerated it in PC gaming. According to IDC, in fact, worldwide shipments of gaming PCs and monitors grew 26.8% year-over-year in 2020 to 55 million units, and will climb another 18% this year to 65.1 million.
“When you’ve got so many more people at home that can’t go out to restaurants, can’t get involved in various activities as they normally do, gaming crops up as a way to entertain,” DiMarco observes.
D&H formed cloud computing and pro AV business units to pursue other strategic opportunities early in 2019. The creation of a components and gaming unit officially elevates those markets to the same importance. “They have been on the same level as far as effort, execution, and investments for the last few years,” DiMarco says.
D&H rolled out new video wall kits and services for use in esports, as well as pro AV, installations two months ago. Its esports portfolio includes prebuilt systems, gaming consoles, broadcast equipment, and furniture, as well as components, peripherals, and accessories such as high-performance motherboards, graphics cards, controllers, keyboards, and joysticks.