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When Ken Boyd walked into Goody’s Family Clothing Inc. six years ago, he wasn’t just starting a new job as technical services director; he was walking into a new way of doing business.

As lead systems analyst at his previous company, Boyd had grown accustomed to going through IBM directly for products and services—and IBM had always delivered. But by the time he joined Goody’s, the Knoxville, Tenn., company was evolving and needed more specialized service. IBM, too, was starting to change some processes and beginning to offload services and direct sales to channel partners that offered more expertise in certain areas.

So when Boyd called his IBM contact to ask about an RS/6000 to run a new application for Goody’s, he was surprised when the representative pointed him to a Chattanooga, Tenn., reseller, InfoSystems Inc.

“Where I came from, I was used to going directly to IBM,” Boyd said. “I was concerned about this other level of interference between us and the vendor. But within a few months, I was comfortable that it would work out.”

The key was the relationship-building work of InfoSystems President Clay Hales, which resulted in a solid business foundation between the two companies. While InfoSystems doesn’t win all his company’s business—Goody’s policy is to get three bids for substantial purchases—it does get many of the contracts, Boyd said.

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