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Bob Sayewitz started working in computer sales the year before the IBM PC was introduced. After spending 13 years with CompUSA where he eventually ran the company’s sales operation, he set off on his own, founding a Dallas-area solution provider, Command Solutions. Now Sayewitz is back with CompUSA. He spoke with The Channel Insider’s Jessica Davis about the switch, what VAR lessons he’ll bring to CompUSA and the trends he sees going on in the industry.

Davis: Why did you leave CompUSA in the 1990s?

Sayewitz: I wanted to try my own business and move out that way.

Davis: Did you find being a VAR very different from being part of CompUSA?

Sayewitz: The difference between the two was the size of CompUSA. It is easier to maneuver in your own business. You are accountable to yourself. And customer acquisition is a lot different in your own business. But I had an opportunity to come back to CompUSA and decided to take advantage of it.

Davis: What lessons did you learn as a VAR that you are taking back to CompUSA?

Sayewitz: The importance of the customer experience and customer satisfaction. You have to learn how your customer’s business works day in and day out. It’s been a challenge that is really an opportunity.

Davis: How does CompUSA serve different kinds of customers?

Sayewitz: We service inbound business through our seminars and walk-in traffic. Those include businesses with up to 20 employees. Companies with more than 20 employees are serviced by our outbound account manager base, which deals with companies with up to about 300 employees.

Davis: What trends have you been seeing at your business and at CompUSA?

Sayewitz: From a trend perspective we are seeing desktop replacement for sure. We are seeing a shift probably coming from the adoption of Windows Vista. Businesses have wanted to stick to Windows XP. However, towards the end of this year we expect them to be more receptive to Vista. We are also seeing more solutions such as VOIP [voice over IP]. And we are seeing more solutions across the board with software licensing. Surveillance is another opportunity that has come up. We are seeing a more sophisticated customer adopt surveillance. And we are seeing more interest in data storage.

Davis: How does CompUSA work with vendors and VARs?

Sayewitz: We also offer a suite of Microsoft solutions including POS [Point of Sale] and Microsoft works with our team within the stores. We also have our own preferred provider network where we’ve elected to work with local VARs. While we have our own technicians who do many installations, in many other cases a VAR does the software and network installation. Beyond that the network lets CompUSA serve markets where there is not a CompUSA store.