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Distributor Avnet on May 15 announced Rick Alvarez, vice president of sales at Avnet Partner Solutions, as the new head of its Hewlett-Packard Business Unit.

Alvarez assumes the role as vice president and general manager of the HP unit, a position Jim Kleeman left in February after two years at the helm.

Alvarez is tasked with continuing Kleeman’s success driving toward a goal of $1 billion in annual HP sales by 2008, Avnet officials said. Under Kleeman, the unit grew revenue 17 percent to $660 million in 2005, said Fred Cuen, president of Avnet’s Technology Solutions Group.

Prior to Avnet, Alvarez was vice president of sales at QIV Systems, a reseller specializing in the SMB (small and midsize business) market, where he helped drive the company to $30 million in annual sales, according to a statement from Avnet. Alvarez has been in IT for more than 20 years, the statement said.

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Kleeman would not disclose his next step, but told co-workers he is looking into his own business and has reached out to a venture capital firm for financing.

Kleeman’s announcement came on the heels of Steve Tepedino’s resignation in February as co-president of Avnet Technology Solutions, a title he had shared with Cuen.