CGES expands its thrust into the federal market

Fresh from winning its biggest agency deal Comark Government & Education Sales Inc. is seeking to broaden its business in the federal market.

In September CGES captured an estimated $50 million contract with the Census Bureau to supply notebook computers. The pact the largest indefinite-delivery indefinite-quantity deal ever for CGES has put the reseller on the federal map. Now the company is mobilizing to follow up on that win targeting multiple sales channels.

Alan Bechara recently hired vice president of CGES's federal operations said the Census contract is important but added that the company is working to expand. "The Census buy is the tip of the iceberg " Bechara said. "It's a great opportunity but...my goal is to widen the net."

Specifically Bechara said he hopes to expand the company's business on General Services Administration schedules pursue blanket purchase agreements vie for governmentwide and agency-specific IDIQ pacts and team with integrators.

Elements of that strategy are already in place. On GSA Schedule B/C CGES represents companies such as Hewlett-Packard Co. NEC Technologies Inc. and Toshiba America Information Systems Inc. The latter is also a CGES supplier on the Census contract.

In terms of new procurements CGES is looking into the Treasury Department's Treasury Distributed Processing Infrastructure among other deals. And as for integrator ties the company has a subcontract to TeleComm Systems Inc. on the National Institutes of Health's ImageWorld program. CGES is providing items under TeleComm Systems Inc.'s imaging pact.

Bechara said he sees integrators that emphasize professional services as potential customers rather than competitors.

CGES' federal unit will have to convince integrators that they should deal with CGES rather than directly with manufacturers said Mark Amtower president of consulting firm Amtower & Co. Ashton Md. a firm that numbers among its clients companies such as Government Technology Services Inc. that compete with CGES.

Another challenge Amtower noted will be CGES' objective of pursuing both the GSA schedule and IDIQ contracts. Those businesses call for different sales skills he said.

CGES' Gaithersburg Md.-based federal operation was launched in August 1995 and is expected to generate about $18 million in revenue in 1996 Bechara said. In the federal market CGES faces much larger reseller competitors such as BTG Inc. and GTSI where Bechara once worked.

Bechara however said he believes CGES can be competitive. "There is plenty of room for a player like us " he said noting that GSA's expanding schedule business represents a multibillion dollar opportunity.

In addition CGES has the backing of parent Comark Inc a $563 million reseller and distributor based in the Chicago suburb of Bloomingdale Ill. Comark's Bloomingdale operation for example serves as the distribution arm of CGES' federal unit. Comark operates a warehouse facility with about $50 million in inventory. Bechara said Comark's purchasing power allows the company to receive product vendors' top-tier discounts. "I have the resources of a big company " he said.

"They are not small by any stretch of the imagination " Amtower agreed noting the size of the parent company. But locally CGES' federal operation is relatively lean: 20 employees handle sales marketing and contract/bid management. Bechara said the small Gaithersburg group is able to avoid the bureaucratic burdens of a larger organization. "We're big but we're small " he concluded.

AT A GLANCEComark Government & Education Sales Inc.

Markets: Federal and state government educational institutionsTotal revenue: $60 million to $70 million (projected for 1996)

Federal headquarters: Gaithersburg Md.

Contracts: GSA schedule Census Bureau notebook contract.

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