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CDW will build a solutions and services practice around Cisco, IBM and Microsoft by acquiring VARs that support those vendors, the company told The Channel Insider.

The reseller, based in Vernon Hills, Ill., announced on Sept. 19 its intention to purchase Berbee, a large solution provider based in Madison, Wis., with Cisco, IBM and Microsoft practices and a strong history of acquisitions itself.

Furthermore, CDW intends to use Berbee as a base from which to grow, said John A. Edwardson, the firm’s chairman and CEO.

“CDW receives calls every day from VARs looking to sell themselves” to the direct reseller, Edwardson said. “Now they know what we’re looking for.”

CDW plans to couple Berbee’s expertise in acquiring and integrating solution providers with its own liquid capital, an estimated $500 million, to pick up VARs in the areas that complement Berbee’s solution and geography, Edwardson said.

Click here to read more about CDW’s expansion plans and whether VARs should be worried.

The strategy will be led by Berbee, whose management team will stay intact coming in to CDW, Edwardson said. The firm has made 83 acquisitions in the last decade and has a track record of identifying and integrating acquisition targets to expand.

The company would look first to expand in major cities that could support a customer base of at least 300 companies, either by opening a Berbee site or acquiring a local solution provider with greater than $2 million in annual revenue related to one of the three targeted vendors, he said.

“The governor on this growth will be people,” Edwardson said. Berbee’s 300 engineers won’t be enough to carry a nationwide expansion, he said.

Berbee has already expanded to six states: Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio and Wisconsin.

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CDW expects the solutions and services addition will allow it to capture a larger share of customers’ wallets and drive product sales from its main operation, executives said.

CDW management set a target of $10 billion in annual sales by the end of 2008, and the company remains about $1.7 billion in forecasted sales below that figure, even with the Berbee purchase, according to Raymond James and Associates, a financial analyst firm. CDW reported $6.29 billion in revenue in 2005.

Berbee has 11 offices and two data centers in six Midwestern states and employs approximately 800 people. The company revenue for the year ending July 31 was $390 million.