Sun came up with a new strategy, creating a “remanufactured reseller program.” The concept was that Sun would choose two ‘”Authorized Remanufactured Resellers” who would then work within their sales channel to find new homes for the systems. The resellers would purchase the hardware at prices closer to 40-50% percent off list price then could mark it up to what the market would bear.
We tracked down the person who was in charge of the new program who said Sun would be willing to entertain applications from interested parties; however they had already identified several good candidates on their own. RAVE was an on the outside “slim chance.” Not discouraged, I was fairly aggressive in suggesting that we should be considered and that I would like to personally meet “Lee” and present our case, I believe he reluctantly accepted so I took off to Sunnyvale with our VP of Sales.
Back in those days, young executives carried fancy briefcases and printed reports came off of large printers that used green bar paper. So with a presentation and a report 4 inches thick we went to meet our contact. We were disappointed to learn “that Lee was not in his office” when we arrived for our 10 am appointment; “something called him away” and they told us “that we would have to come back.” We said we would wait for him to return and we waited for hours. Finally a woman came down to see us and asked if she could help; we explained our situation. Turns out that “Bunny” was a VP, Lee worked for her, and the “Authorized Remanufactured Reseller” program was her idea. She explained that by now “they had interviewed several companies and had made up their minds; however had not notified their choices yet.” In addition, she said “she had never heard of RAVE and felt that we were not qualified.”
I asked her if she was involved in the auction, and it turns out that she had actually managed it. It was an experiment that failed. I asked her if she remembered the company that had come in and bought $800k of the equipment with a credit card. Bunny said she remembered the situation very well, but did not know anything about the company who had purchased the computer systems.
Here was the close: I opened my briefcase, pulled out my 4 inch report and explained to her that the company behind the $800k deal was RAVE. The report contained every item we bought, broken down into tag numbers including their serial numbers, and the names of every company we sold it to, where and when we sold it. We caught her completely by surprise – she was genuinely impressed. I explained to her that we were experts in computer hardware integration, reconfiguration and testing. Also that we sold every bit of the $800k inventory within 90 days – to small and medium sized companies – and did not interfere with any sales activities between the Sun salesforce and their “named accounts.”
By the time we left her office Bunny committed to RAVE that we would be one of two Sun US based “Sun Authorized Remanufactured Resellers.” By the time that program ended eight years later I would estimate we sold over $100 million in products out of that program alone. That was just the beginning of our relationship with Sun Microsystems. RAVE also became an “Authorized Reseller” in several other programs including “SunSoft” (Solaris and Trusted Solaris Linux based operating systems), “STB” (Sun Technology Base – the ability to buy Sun products at the board and component level versus systems level) and as a “VAR” (Value Added Reseller for new product and services). RAVE had now grown to 70 employees.
Because of our unique status with Sun we were exposed to many of the Sun Executives including its President, Scott McNealy. A whole separate story, but that relationship included spending four days at Scott’s home at Pebble Beach, where I took my Dad and we watched (with many others) the entire 2000 US Open, where Tiger Woods destroyed his competition.
More next month.
Our ten year anniversary – left to right: Rick Darter, Ken Gorinski and Dennis Asselin.