Merisel creates fed division

In response to reseller demand, Merisel Inc. last week announced a new division targeting the federal market with a dedicated sales force, marketing programs and expanded product offerings.

Based in El Segundo, Calif., Merisel is a distributor of more than 25,000 computer hardware and software products to more than 45,000 resellers throughout the United States.

Every year the company holds a series of focus groups with its resellers to determine changing trends and needs, and this year "the response gave a clear indication that Merisel had to dedicate more resources to this area," said Curt Cornell, newly appointed director of the Government and Education Sales Division.

The company appointed Cornell, who previously developed the government programs at Ingram Micro and Novell Inc., to start and implement a specialized group of offerings for the resellers working with government buyers.

"This is a real value proposition for the government," Cornell said. Federal buyers used to only purchase hardware and software directly from the vendor, he said, but "those days have changed, and with how distribution works today...the government can save significantly by using a reseller who works with a distributor [such as] Merisel."

Merisel has been involved in the federal market for many years, with a bid desk to help provide customized pricing and a government program fax update system to tell resellers about the newest products.

However, the new division— which will be officially rolled out next week in Washington, D.C.— also will include dedicated sales field representatives and inside sales support with a special toll-free number.

"It's sort of surprising that Merisel's coming into the game as late as they are," said Mark Amtower, president of Amtower & Co., Ashton, Md. "[It's not surprising] that they're entering the market, but [it is surprising] that they haven't done it before."

Cornell should help Merisel combat Ingram Micro, Amtower said. "Curt's a pretty resourceful guy...and if there are weaknesses in Ingram's program, Curt would know them."

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