Channel Superstar Sammy Kinlaw Talks About His New Role At Tech Data – CRN


After decades of work building sales organizations inside IBM, Lenovo and Lexmark, channel superstar Sammy Kinlaw has just landed a senior vice president role at Tech Data where he will be in charge of endpoint solutions for the Americas.

“My goal is to not walk in as a bull in a china shop, but certainly listen, take it all in, and then use the experiences I have of running three very large manufacturers to find what are the tweaks?” he told CRN on his first official day on the job. “What are the changes? What are the updates? How do we want to message? How do we want to position ourselves? All of that is going to be my focus for day one, week one, month one.”

For the past two and half years, Kinlaw has been the vice president of worldwide channel, OEM sales, at Lexmark. During his tenure, he helped launch a new product lineup that replaced 94 percent of the company’s models and created a global channel sales program called Go Line in early 2019 that focused on smaller-footprint devices. The program drove sales in the SMB market and was well-timed to reap the spend around work-from-from home this year.

“Sammy has been a great asset to Lexmark,” Brock Saladin, senior vice president and chief commercial officer at Lexmark, said in a statement to CRN. “Under his leadership, the team implemented a number of value-add programs for our partners including the Lexmark Go Line series, the Lexmark Industry Advantage program, and our comprehensive Lexmark Connect global channel program. We thank Sammy for his contributions and wish him the best going forward.”

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Lexmark U.S. sales were up double digits in the years Kinlaw spent with the organization, numbers that bucked the same trend for print, which was down single digits. That kind of market-defying sales leadership is what led Tech Data to recruit Kinlaw to manage its endpoint devices.

“Sammy’s experience and depth of knowledge across a host of technologies and vendors as well as his deep understanding of the channel make him a perfect fit for Tech Data,” said John O’Shea, president, Americas, at Tech Data. “We are pleased to welcome him to the company and look forward to the impact he will have on our business in service to our channel partners.”

In his new role at Tech Data, the Clearwater, Fla.-based distributor said Kinlaw will be responsible for leading the relationships and strategic operations for Tech Data’s endpoint solutions vendors. It’s a job Kinlaw knows well from the vendor side.

“I can very quickly articulate the successes I had with distribution, and specifically with Tech Data, where I had return on the capital that I invested and where I did not get a good return,” Kinlaw said. “Because it‘s not always perfect. It’s varied. And that’s where I think I can help. … This is going to be a blast. I‘m walking in the door, not being arrogant, but I’m feeling so confident just because I have walked the walk and I have done the work.”

After years of being a publicly traded company, Tech Data unveiled a deal to be purchased by private equity firm Apollo Global Management in November 2019. The deal, which grew to $6 billion by December, saw payments to investors of $145 per share in cash, a 12.4 percent premium to the stock’s closing price on Nov. 27.

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Once the acquisition closed in June, Apollo said it would invest an additional $750 million over the next five years, earmarked to benefit the company’s channel partners through enhancements to Tech Data’s StreamOne Cloud Platform, to optimize and standardize processes, and to apply data and analytics to be more agile in a rapidly evolving environment.

Kinlaw worked for Tech Data CEO Rich Hume during their time together at IBM.

“They have very big goals, which of course I‘ll be learning more about in the coming days and weeks and months,” he said. “It’s very clear if you read about the intentions of Tech Data that they want to expand and that you know they’ve got investment to do that. … I already have some initial ideas but I have to listen first, and I’ve got to make sure I understand that I’m in sync with John O’Shea’s strategy. But I have my own ideas, and that’s why they hired me.”



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