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Twenty-five years of VAR success

A lot of press releases come in every day and few are all that notable. One of today’s stands out, not for its content so much as for what it represents. Autodesk is holding its annual VAR (value-added reseller) conference this week and issued a release congratulating four resellers on their 25th anniversary with Autodesk.Just think: these four small companies have survived the ups and downs and massive changes that have marked the IT and software industries over that time. How many big IT companies have failed in that time, or been disadvantageously sold off?

Over the 25 years, these four companies managed to ride out the transition from zero awareness of CAD to very large, expensive, dedicated CAD hardware to UNIX workstations to cheap, desktop PCs. From simple drafting software to complex 3D modeling technology. From being given only the smallest of the small accounts as CAD companies took lucrative larger accounts in-house to having to offer services in addition to sales — and surviving the “buy-it-all-online” days of the Internet bubble.

Hagerman and Company is one of the four resellers mentioned in the Autodesk release, and issued its own announcement of the anniversary. In the release, Dennis Hagerman, CEO, says that it was one of the first resellers to earn Autodesk VAR designation in 1983, and that it has since helped more than 33,000 customers “make the most of their Autodesk software investments over the years”. Hagerman & Co. started with three employees and today has 85 employees in 19 offices.

Asked how he managed to thrive through three recessions, Mr. Hagerman said that it was optimism, a spirit of family working together for the success of the all and persistence. I bet we should add to that list: business acumen, a sound idea of what his customers need (and the ability to change Hagerman & Co to meet those needs) and a style that enables the company to hold on to key customers and employees for much of that 25-year span. Too many VARs have failed because one of these three elements was missing.

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