Equanet is no stranger to receiving Channel Awards, but last year it managed to walk away with both the Corporate Reseller of the Year and the overall Reseller of the Year awards.
"We were over the moon," enthused marketing manager Abdul Terry. "Winning both categories was a first for us. It added a lot of kudos to our business, and reaffirmed the perception of Equanet as the reputable, organised and customer-oriented company we have always been."
Terry thinks that winning will be a tall order this year, when competition has been intense and many resellers have been occupied with simply surviving. "Each year we face strong competition from very worthy companies and believe it will be even tougher this year.
However, even being short-listed is a great achievement in itself. It has been a tough year all round, but if the reports are true then business is certainly turning the corner."
Winning an award can give a business a real boost, in more ways than one. EACS won the SME Reseller award last year, and managing director of the company Mike Dearlove said it had an impact on the image of the firm among customers as well as the industry.
"It has improved customers' perception of what dealing with EACS means. It provides reassurance to potential and new customers who are seeking a quality reseller.
"The fact that the award was voted for by customers is proof, not only to ourselves at EACS but to the rest of the IT community, that we as a company must be doing something right," he said.
The other major effect of the award has been the raising of EACS's credibility among distributors and manufacturers, said Dearlove. EACS has seen a greater desire for closer working relationships from leading suppliers over the past 12 months. It became a Microsoft Gold Partner within weeks of winning the award.
This year the reseller awards will be very different and extremely open. While the main Corporate, SME and Reseller of the Year awards depended on reader votes in 2003, this time the corporate and SME awards will be judged by an expert panel. This means that every reseller that enters is in with a chance, no matter what size or turnover.
The Reseller of the Year award will this year be voted for by the readers of CRN's sister title Computing.
EACS managed to garner plenty of support from its customers and partners, as did Equanet. Both companies felt that their success was the result of dedication and hard work.
"It was a testament to the culture and ethos of the company over its 10-year history," said Dearlove. "Go the extra mile for all your customers often enough and you will eventually be appreciated. Work jointly for both your customers and your own benefit and you will be rewarded."
Terry agreed. "We won because of our customer-centric business model. We have always maintained a strong focus on meeting our customers' needs, as well as gaining continual feedback. These are the factors that help us win awards."
But the resellers that need - and perhaps deserve - the awards most are often too busy trying to keep their heads above water to think of even entering, let alone canvassing for votes. This year, however, the playing field is much flatter.
All the awards, and most notably the Innovator awards, are wide open to entry from any reseller. Last year the Innovators of the Year were chosen from winners of a monthly awards scheme, but a different system has been running in 2004. Instead, resellers are being asked to submit their project entries individually.
This throws these awards, which also will be judged by the panel, wide open.
Steve Wood, managing director of Parity ICT on the Wirral, winner of the Public Sector Innovator of the Year award in 2003, said that getting recognition for innovative projects is certainly worthwhile.
"Winning [confirmed] that the solution we developed was a real achievement and that our chances of success in the market were as high as we had anticipated. It also gave a real boost to the project team to have their achievement recognised, and that has driven them on to further successes."
It also helped the company to score points with suppliers. "It gave us added credibility in the eyes of our customers and suppliers, and this has led to more favourable treatment in some circumstances," said Wood.
WHO WON LAST YEAR?
Corporate Reseller and Reseller of the Year: Equanet
SME Reseller of the Year: EACS
Technology Innovator of the Year - Public Sector: Parity ICT
Technology Innovator of the Year - Private Sector: Majenta Solutions
CHANNEL AWARDS 2004 RESELLER CATEGORIES
Corporate Reseller of the Year: awarded to the reseller business that has delivered the highest professional standards of service and support to corporate end-user organisations in 2004.
SME Reseller of the Year: awarded to the reseller business that has delivered the highest professional standards of service and support to SME businesses (those with fewer than 250 staff) in 2004.
Innovative Reseller Project of the Year - Public Sector
Innovative Reseller Project of the Year - Private Sector
There will also be an overall award for Reseller of the Year under the Outstanding Achievement category. This will go to the reseller business that Computing readers believe has delivered the highest professional standards of service and support overall to its customers in 2004.
In all categories except the Outstanding Achievement Awards, a panel of independent judges will draw up short lists and then choose the eventual winners. Entries must be submitted by 31 July. For details, visit www.channelawards.co.uk .
Readers' votes for all the Outstanding Achievement awards will be accepted from 1 September. These are not open to entry. Details of how to cast your vote will appear on the web site from September.
Highlander MD Steve Brown tells CRN about the skills he learned on the pitch and brought to the boardroom
Reports suggest Dell is pursuing a straightforward IPO, contradicting existing plans to buy out tracking stock holders
Analysts predict upturn in PC market next year, but 2018 to remain plagued by components shortages
Neil Sawyer claims he has 'never seen so many conversations about a new method of investing in workplace technology'