Some 1,700 channel stalwarts and newbies alike celebrated (or commiserated) until late after the winners of the 2009 CRN Channel Awards were announced recently at Battersea Evolution Arena in London. The ceremony saw 23 accolades presented by compere for the evening – Welsh actor, comedian, and presenter Rob Brydon, of Marion and Geoff fame – and hundreds partying on afterwards at nightclub Pacha until 4:30am.
The high-profile Channel Personality of the Year award was won by a clearly surprised and delighted Andy Gass, managing director of C2000.
Specialist independent service provider SysMicro was named Editor’s Choice Emerging Company of the Year. Founded by its two directors Max Smith and Sandip Channa, the West Bromwich firm has expanded rapidly in enterprise solutions.
Channa said: “I don't think anybody understands the impact of a CRN award until they win one. It gives us so much to go for next year.
“Without awards like this, emerging resellers have little incentive to carry on. It not only gives the owners of the company a lift, but has a positive effect on everyone else around it - including staff, customers and partners. It was a fantastic evening and the perfect finish to a great year.”
As per last year, several exceptionally worthy runners-up took home Judges Commended accolades.
Service Provider of the Year was Comms-care. Its marketing manager Richard Eglon said: “From our perspective, this is a ringing endorsement because it is very much based on people going out of their way to vote for us. We would like to think it is a true reflection of what our channel partners think.”
He said he felt that its market was big enough to have its own category and was proud to be the inaugural winner.
“What makes the Channel Awards popular is they do change them to suit the marketplace. They have listened to guys like us saying that the services arena warranted its own award,” Eglon said.
Audiovisual distributor Midwich scooped the award for Specialist Distributor of the Year, one of the most eclectic categories of the evening.
Darren Lewitt, audiovisual director at Midwich, said the fact that Midwich was up against firms in other markets made the win even more poignant
“That is why we are so delighted to win that category,” he said. “It was so
tightly contested and we didn’t even know some of the people in the category.”
He said that no matter how many times you might win it was always worth it. “I have to thank the fact we have good people at Midwich and a loyal customer base that voted for us.
“In the last three-and-a-half years we have made five acquisitions and got a good group of companies. Everyone has played his or her part, not just the people from Midwich but also at our sister companies too.”
The right stuff
Bobby Watkins, UK managing director of Acer, took home the Systems Vendor gong, said: “We feel we have been doing the right stuff but it’s great when you get feedback from industry stakeholders to give you a sign that you’re heading in the right direction.”
Watkins said Acer had spent a lot of time focused on improvements but winning a prize reminded them success was already theirs. “The glass trophy is already in our reception.”
Ian Kilpatrick, chairman of Security Distributor of the Year Wick Hill, said: “We are really proud and delighted to have won it and everyone here is over the moon about it. It’s something for people to be proud of in terms of the recognition from our partners of what we are doing. This is recognition of the hard work the team has done – not just the sales team but services, logistics and finance.”
Top storage distributor was CMS Peripherals. Joe Fagan, group product marketing manger at CMS Peripherals, said: “We had absolutely no idea we were going to win, but we’re really pleased. It’s a great achievement, a highly coveted award and we’d just like to thank all our customers for voting for us.”
Carrying off the much coveted Reseller of the Year award, as Kelway did, is no mean feat on the night. Kelway’s chief executive Phil Doye said there had been plenty of celebrating.
“It was a great night. The Channel Awards are the only industry awards of any consequence and it is nice to be recognised as a winner. We had quite a large presence at the event so there are quite a few sore heads around the office at the moment.”
Networking Vendor of the Year was HP Procurve. Darryl Brick, HP ProCurve UK and Ireland country manager, said: “This is a positive endorsement from the channel that we are doing the right things. I have a very strong team, a laser focus on our channel, strong distribution and great support.”
Bell Micro was the only firm to win two awards this year – taking home Networking Distributor of the Year and Software Distributor of the Year.
Bell Micro Europe president John Toal said: “We are extremely pleased. Bell
has had well documented challenges over the last couple of years and we have
actually won awards tonight in areas in which we are only just establishing
ourselves. It is nice to be recognised for the amount of hard work and effort
everybody has put into making the company what it is. We are chuffed.”
Smaller company success
EACS took the gong for Corporate Reseller of the Year. Mike Dearlove, managing director at EACS, said the announcement was a complete surprise. “We feel pretty good,” he said. “The secret of our success might be down partly to us punching above our weight as a small company, we are showing growth and a strong customer focus on relationship building, aiming for what I call optimised IT.”
Alan Sharpe, EMEA sales director at Emulex, attended the event as a spectator. “For us, it was about networking. And I really enjoyed it, although I came last year as well.”
Adam Hartley, UK Cisco/VMware/VCE alliance director at EMC, which was nominated in the storage vendor category, agreed, adding that the entertainment, food and schedule had been well worth it.
Barrie Guy, general manager at LG Business solutions, said the company attended the event because it was keen to raise its profile and meet potential partners and customers for its B2B foray.
“It is the first time that I have been to the Channel Awards and paid for it – this year we sponsored the VIP area and took a table of guys. I really enjoyed it. We had a really good time – and we didn’t take any customers, just our team,” Guy said.
“It’s about team-building, taking the guys out. I think it is interesting because there are so many categories. And I think Rob Brydon hit the right level of sarcasm and entertainment for such an event – I didn’t see anyone running for the door and I go to a lot of these things.”
Peter McEvoy, corporate communications manager at Computerlinks, said his team had a wonderful evening despite being pipped at the security distributor post by Wick Hill this year.
“Personally, I really enjoyed the hospitality. The food was fantastic this year and the service was second to none. We are really pleased to be part of the event because there is no other like it that brings together so many power players from the industry,” McEvoy said.
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