Exclusive SD&I Roundtable: What Integrators Think About VARs and Vice Versa

Some folks in the security industry may agree that there is a fine line between the goals of an integrator and those of a Value-Added Reseller (VAR). Others who define themselves as both obviously see the big picture of looking at the needs of their...


Some folks in the security industry may agree that there is a fine line between the goals of an integrator and those of a Value-Added Reseller (VAR). Others who define themselves as both obviously see the big picture of looking at the needs of their customer. With the industry and technology only continuing to evolve, it is important to understand what benefits an end-user is looking for—knowing this criteria will distinguish those as being among the best-of-the-best.

Do you consider yourself an integrator or a VAR? How do you differentiate between the two?

Daniel Miclette, vice president of International Sales, Alertex Inc., Ottawa, Ontario: We are an integrator and manufacturer of an innovative advanced wireless detection system for the prevention of theft, vandalism and sabotage. Currently, we are not a VAR, however, we may introduce other products in the future which we may eventually evolve into being a VAR.

Michael S. Blumenson, president and CTO, Digital Surveillance Solutions, Buffalo, N.Y.: An integrator utilizes off-the-shelf products to create high functioning systems that solve problems customers are experiencing. A VAR adds a ‘special ingredient’ to a product or a system to increase the value of that product for the customer. We consider our company to be both a systems integration company and a VAR. We certainly combine many different kinds of products to create systems but we also add a methodology to how we engage with our customers.

John H. Kostelac, sales and engineering manager, Northwestern Ohio Security Systems, Columbus, Ohio: We consider ourselves a combination of the two. A security integrator is a company that takes different standalone security systems and makes them work together through physical or logical communication. This is one of the greatest value-adds that security integrators bring to the table. A value added reseller is a company that takes a product, adds some sort of value as defined by their customers and resells the product. The question should be to define value-add?

Todd Vojta, president, Paragon Solutions Group Inc., Corcoran, Minn.: We feel that VARs are very hardware-oriented companies. Their primary mission is to push the sales and installation of the primary product lines they have and then offer some customization to make the product more personable to the client (new skins, integration with a certain product, etc.). It is our belief that true integrators come at the problem with a different approach. We look at the needs of the client, choose the best product suite for the client to solve the problem and proceed forward with an installation that includes a fully converged solution.

Richard Beckers, president, Pinnacle Technologies, Shelby Township, Minn.: A system integrator is a person or company that specializes in bringing together component subsystems into a whole and ensuring that those subsystems function together. A value-added reseller is a company that adds some feature(s) to an existing product(s), then resells it (usually to end-users) as an integrated product or complete turnkey solution. I propose that a value-added integrator (VAI) is a company that specializes in bringing together component subsystems from multiple disciplines, in our case data, voice, and video, then adds some feature(s) that allow these previously independent solutions to talk to one another. This makes it possible to centrally manage the system and provide a significant benefit to the end-user.

Lorinda Church, president and general counsel, The Spy Place Franchising, Fort Wayne, Ind.: As an integrator and a VAR, we package equipment together. This allows the consumer without a technical background to enjoy top of the line features without needing the technical knowledge to determine what equipment is needed or compatible with each other. At the same time, we offer post sales technical support to the consumer as well as professional installation of these integrated systems to all clients.

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