Tech Data Corp., a 31-year-old broad-line IT products distributor in Clearwater, Fla., has added video surveillance products to its distribution mix and plans to offer more access control products next.

The distributor has created specialized business units (SBUs) that are equipment-specific and has added a physical security SBU. “The concept of specialized business units started five or six years ago,” explained Annette Taber, director of the company’s advanced technologies group. “We want to position ourselves in the security market so we can expand the marketplace for IT resellers and in addition bring niche players -- dealers in the physical security space -- into the IT world.”

The company has been supplying data security products for years, and over the last few years has grown into offering physical security products only to resellers for video surveillance and access, noted Dan Smith, marketing manager, pro A/V and physical security.

“A lot of the legacy security guys are focused on the analog segment and getting into the IT version of security,” Smith pointed out. At the same time, IT resellers are beginning to offer security products. “We’ll meet in the middle,” he stated.

“We’re not looking to disrupt the market in terms of pricing,” Smith asserted. “What we want to do is add value to the sale with some consultative selling practices and complete solutions.“We are a technology enabler -- physical security is not our only specialized business unit,” Smith pointed out. “We are not pushing IT guys into security,” he maintained, pointing out that telephony merged with IT when it became digital through voice over Internet protocol (VoIP).

“What we’ve learned in a couple of years of evaluating and launching this is that like any business, there are security guys who know things IT guys don’t,” Smith stressed. Security specialists know what lens to buy but need information about networking. IT resellers know the opposite. The company has more than 1,000 unique customers of security products monthly, some who are security dealers and systems integrators and some who are IT resellers, Smith reported.

“What I really want to do is convey the thought that we don’t drive IT resellers into the market -- we don’t tell them what their strategy is and what technology to sell,” Smith emphasized. “We are here as a resource for those people who raise their hands and say they want to be in a market, and then we enable them to sell that technology.”

Smith maintained the company’s expertise in IT technology and networking could help security dealers learn IT. “The security dealers know everything but IT, and we are experts,” Smith noted.

The company has revenue of more than $20 billion annually, and its approximately 80 systems engineers take 2,700 technical calls per day. “Our resource base is extensive enough to assist them,” Smith said of security dealers.

Added Taber, “We believe there will be some synergy between them and an opportunity for them to partner together, where they can go to market as a team.”