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Eighty-eight percent of Ingram Micro’s VentureTech Network members are partnering with each other, up from 77 percent in 2006.

Other VARs and distributors should take note.

Analysts, channel chiefs and many VARs pay lip service to the concept of partnering among VARs as the channel becomes segmented vertically and VARs seek to extend their solution geographically, but VARs remain reluctant to let others into their business.

The cooperation among VentureTech Network members is among the highest in the industry, members and Ingram executives said, because the organization is policed and trust is ensured.

Vendors, user groups and ad hoc organizations have popped up to encourage cooperation, and Web sites such as are trying to make it happen, but it is the power of authority that makes VTN work, said Jason Beal, group manager of the Ingram Micro Services Network, which is open to non-VTN members.

“It’s like parenting,” he said. “It’s not creating it that counts, it’s the maintenance that counts. You can build Web sites, and aggregate the services, but it’s quality control that builds trust.”

IMSN and VTN have strict quality requirements and iron-clad “No Compete” agreements that keep everyone in line, said Kirk Robinson, Ingram’s vice president of channel marketing. Offenders are rare (“I can’t think of an issue in the last five years,” he said), and are dealt with swiftly by peer review and immediate expulsion for offenders.

IMSN has 750 solution providers, most with multiple locations, making coverage almost nationwide for labor and most skill sets.

Bell Industries used the network to respond to an after-hours virus attack that brought down 80 locations of one of its largest customers. With help from IMSN, Bell was able to dispatch technicians to more than 40 of the sites within 16 hours, Beal said.

The success carried the company “further into the account,” Brannon Nealy, business development manager at Bell, told Ingram execs. It helped Bell win a 300-PC service deal with the customer, he said.

It is also the intangibles that really make the networking work, said Robert Chadwick, president of Connecting Point Computer Center, in Rocky Mount, N.C.

“Some of us have been working together for years,” Chadwick said. “There’s a lot of trust between us and no one would dare steal your business within the group.”