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Even before he was promoted to vice president of services, North America, Justin Crotty for all intents and purposes already was distributor Ingram Micro’s “services guy.”

Crotty, whose promotion took effect in October, has worked tirelessly the last couple of years to develop and launch services programs for the Santa Ana, Calif., distributor’s solution providers with an eye to boosting their profitability and better preparing them to meet the evolving needs of their customers.

Among those services are an initiative in partnership with Ottawa-based managed services vendor Level Platforms, an engagement with IBM Global Services, and a program that gives solution providers the opportunity to resell warranty and professional services in the same way they resell products. The idea is to make services as, or even more, important to solution providers as selling products.

Ingram Micro’s services push recognizes the need for VARs and integrators to increase their product margins, differentiate themselves from the crowd and cultivate customer loyalty, Crotty told The Channel Insider.

“Services can be used to entangle VARs with their customers and provide the true value-added benefits that a specific VAR brings to the table,” he said.

Pointing out that services are consultative in nature, Crotty said solution providers can leverage them as a true core competency to deliver “above and beyond the commoditized hardware and software delivery and installation.”

With his promotion, Crotty is charged with the oversight and strategic direction of Ingram Micro’s newly created Services Division, through which he is managing existing service offerings and planning new ones.

The division, complete with dedicated sales and technical services-focused teams, is organized in three areas: professional IT labor services, warranty contract management and renewals, and managed services.

Keith Bradley, president of Ingram Micro North America, said through its services play the distributor is anticipating an important trend in the IT industry. Services, he said, are expected to grow to nearly double the sales of hardware, and Ingram Micro is positioning itself to support its solution providers as the trend takes hold.

“Justin shares the vision of our leadership in services, and he has the passion, energy and ability to execute this strategy,” Bradley said.

Scott Goemmel, executive vice president at PMV Technology, a solution provider in Troy, Mich., credits Crotty with ensuring that Ingram Micro’s service initiatives stay relevant to solution providers.

“Justin has spent countless hours developing a deep understanding of many service provider business models and mapping our needs to areas in which Ingram Micro has an opportunity to have a meaningful strategic impact,” said Goemmel, who as president of the VentureTech Network has worked closely with Crotty. VentureTech is an elite group of solution providers that sources products and leverages services from the distributor.