Value-Added IT

Hartco’s Metafore and MicroAge do more than sell products; they provide comprehensive business IT solutions

Daniel Mercier is the regional VP and general manager of Metafore, part of Hartco’s franchise network.
Daniel Mercier is the regional VP and general manager of Metafore, part of Hartco’s franchise network.

Metafore Technologies Inc. and MicroAge—members of Hartco Inc.’s distribution franchise network—deliver IT solutions that help organizations to achieve their business goals.

“Economic pressures are leading our customers to improve productivity and efficiency, and that means we have to elevate our value proposition,” says Daniel Mercier, regional vice president and general manager of Metafore. “We have to be strategic in order to help organizations improve their performance through innovative IT solutions.”

With a combined 1,600 employees, Hartco Distribution’s network of close to 50 Metafore and MicroAge locations covers 85 percent of the Canadian market, and services the needs of small and midsize businesses and public-sector organizations in all major cities and many secondary markets across Canada.

Often, Metafore and MicroAge locations work together to address customers’ needs. “If we’re hired for a printer deployment project in many cities across Canada, Metafore and MicroAge will deploy and service the equipment in the various locations in a manner that’s seamless to the customer,” says Mercier.

The business model is solid. While customers could buy directly from the major manufacturers such as Apple, Hewlett-Packard, and IBM, Metafore and MicroAge offer a unique value proposition. “The manufacturers typically represent a single brand and require lengthy lead times to deliver solutions to customers across Canada,” says Mercier. And he should know, having worked at Hewlett-Packard for 17 years. “Metafore and MicroAge understand the needs of their customers, and can provide best-in-class, multivendor solutions in a timely fashion, including next-day delivery of products to major cities across Canada.”

One key to the company’s success has been its reseller model, which allows it to integrate multiple manufacturers’ offerings into one solution. “IBM can’t sell you Hewlett-Packard printers, but Metafore and MicroAge can,” Mercier notes.

By the Numbers

 

$500 m.
Combined annual revenues

1976
Year Hartco was founded

1,600
Employees

9
Metafore locations

39
MicroAge locations

In recent years, Metafore and MicroAge have been addressing the challenging economic environment by offering customers strategic value-adds, such as managed services. “Organizations that are facing cost pressures need to shift resources to more strategic jobs, and that leaves a space for us to fill,” Mercier says. “Providing desk-side support is an essential service but does not necessarily create value, and if you don’t do it right, you’ll feel a lot of pain. As a result, we’re seeing more and more companies asking us to provide the service previously done by their own employees, so they can reassign them to create value.”

IT resourcing, or staffing, is another value-add for Metafore and MicroAge. “There’s a clear shortage of IT resources, and it’s putting many businesses at risk of not addressing critical needs,” says Mercier. “Customers can off-load their IT staffing needs to our professional recruiters and focus their valuable internal resources on core business priorities.”

Finally, Metafore and MicroAge offer consulting services that capitalize on their expertise in networking, virtualization, and IT infrastructure optimization. “It’s not just about selling the product,” says Mercier. “It’s about bringing together unparalleled expertise, technologies, and capabilities to deliver best-of-breed IT solutions that enable organizations to reduce operating costs and accelerate their productivity and competitiveness.”

Recently, Metafore helped the Canadian Museum of Nature select and deploy a networking solution. “For a number of years, we’ve been Hewlett-Packard’s largest networking partner, so we’ve developed expertise around the installation of wireless networks,” Mercier explains.     Metafore delivered an infrastructure that provided free wireless access to museum visitors and provided employees with museum-owned laptops to access the museum’s local network.

“We didn’t just put the box in there; we brought in experts and gave the customer some advice, and it changed the experience of the people going to the museum,” Mercier says.

“Clients need to leverage technology to optimize their businesses, and to help them do that, we need to understand their business challenges,” Mercier says. “That’s how we provide more value: we address companies’ strategic business IT requirements, such as managing infrastructure and resourcing. It’s not just selling products; it’s providing comprehensive business IT solutions.”