Sammy Kinlaw, a highly respected 30-year channel veteran, is taking on a new role as vice president of technology sales for Northpoint Commercial Finance in order to provide what he called “game-changing” financing vehicles for partners being squeezed by rising interest rates.
The former channel chief for Lexmark, Lenovo and senior vice president of sales for TD Synnex, who has helped partners navigate multiple seismic shifts in the technology solutions market, said he is looking forward to providing much needed relief, especially for SMB partners, grappling with the highest interest rates in more than two decades.
“If you look at the economy with rising interest rates and layoffs there is less credit being offered and partners and vendors are asking for help,” said Kinlaw, widely recognized as one of top channel executives in the industry. “Everybody is preserving cash. Having a company like Northpoint providing both traditional and creative financing, especially for the SMB market, is a game changing opportunity for the channel to drive sales growth in a cash-strapped credit macro economic environment. With my trusted channel relationships, I have a window into the financial service needs of the industry.”
Northpoint Commercial Finance, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Laurentian Bank of Canada, which has $50 billion in assets, is stepping into the channel fray with additional capital for both traditional flooring and creative financing for as-a-service and even consumption models, said Kinlaw.
With the Federal Reserve last month approving yet another rate hike that has sent borrowing costs to their highest level in 22 years it’s critical that the channel ecosystem take advantage of the Northpoint offerings, said Kinlaw.
“It starts and ends with credit,” he said. “This is literally a lifeline for partners. It’s the difference between being able to close a deal or not close a deal. It’s exciting to be able to help the partners and vendors I have worked with for 30 years be successful in the current macro economic environment. Northpoint is going to provide lines of credit that will drive SMB share gains for vendors.”
Northpoint Commercial Finance will offer a full panoply of financing products for the entire channel ecosystem from vendors to distributors to MSPs and systems integrators, said Kinlaw.
That said, Kinlaw noted that the “sweet spot” for Northpoint will be the bread and butter SMB partner. “These are the partners facing the biggest financial challenges, who are having the hardest time finding credit,” he said. “These are the partners that are wildly important to companies like Lenovo, Dell, HP, Lexmark, Xerox and Cradlepoint. Our ability to provide credit for those SMB partners is going to greatly help vendors grow that SMB business.“
Northpoint is going to provide vendors with additional capital for traditional financing that will open the door to deferred terms for partners in the form of 60-, 90- or even 120-day terms, said Kinlaw. “Traditional flooring is still the basis of how commerce is done in the channel ecosystem,” he said. “With interest rates this high the channel needs more creditors. We can be a second financing option for vendors and partners.”
Northpoint will also move to provide as a service and consumption based financing models for the full channel ecosystem, said Kinlaw. “There has been a groundswell with every solution provider looking to drive more than 50 percent of their revenues in a consumption based model,” he said. “The problem is they need to look at how those deals are financed and who takes the risk. Northpoint has an as a service offering for the partner community through the distributors. We’re going to provide that financing in a very big way over the next 12 months.”
Kinlaw said the time is right for Northpoint to dramatically grow its position in the technology services financing market. “We haven’t seen this kind of interest rate environment in more than 20 years,” he said. “Millenials working in this business have never experienced this kind of interest rate environment. Northpoint is offering terms and conditions to the vendor community that could greatly expand the SMB market.”
Michael Kanan, cofounder, president and CEO of InaCOMP, a channel pioneer that was founded 40 years ago, said he sees Kinlaw’s appointment as a pivotal moment for the channel given the current macroeconomic environment.
“The capital that was driven into our market segment by the pandemic has frankly dried up,” said Kanan, who has navigated numerous economic and technology shifts that have reshaped the channel landscape over four decades. ”Unless you have stellar credit there are not too many financial institutions from a local banking perspective that will provide you with the capital that you need to do business. What Sammy and Northpoint are doing is putting money on the street in the most creative of ways. They can grab a big chunk of the IT spend that is out there today by putting forth creative financing solutions. What we are seeing now is the greatest opportunity for financing to make a difference in this business since 1982. This is going to allow us to provide the level of services and products our customers need to be successful.”
Kanan said the zero interest rate environment sparked by the pandemic led to a groundswell of capital for businesses. “We have never seen a time like that in our life where money was flowing like water through Niagara Falls,” he said. “Now that water has dried up. The pipeline of money is now going to have to come from financial institutions like Northpoint. The key is how they provide those funds in the most consumable way possible. They have a market opportunity bigger than ever before.”
Kanan said he sees Kinlaw’s deep long lasting channel relationships and analytical skills having a profound impact on the channel. “Sammy’s ability to connect human to human is what sets him apart, his customers become his best friends,” said Kanan. “He always goes the extra mile to help his customers succeed. He also uses analytics unlike anyone I have never seen. His ability to extrapolate data into strategy is a gift. You don’t learn that in an MBA program.”
Kirk Robinson, executive vice president and president of North America for distribution behemoth Ingram Micro, said in an email to CRN that he is looking forward to seeing the impact Kinlaw and Northpoint will have on the channel ecosystem
“Financial services done right are a real gamechanger for our channel partners, specifically MSPs,” he said. “For years we’ve noted MSPs who use financial services to grow do just that. They grow faster and more profitably. It’s great to have a known Channel Chief crossover into the high-demand market of financial services. Sammy brings a lot of energy and channel experience to the table.”
As for Kinlaw’s channel acumen and passion Robinson said: “Sammy’s a big fan of the channel. He’s invested and really enjoys being in the field and engaging with channel partners, vendors and disties. That energy and effort goes a long way for a company looking to raise awareness within the IT channel locally and globally… With Sammy’s influence I’d bet on more alliances, more active listening. Particularly around what channel partners want and need from them. And more actionable programs built for and with channel partners.”
Henry Fleches, CEO of UDT, No. 129 on the CRN SP500, who has built the national solution provider powerhouse into one of the top managed service providers with UDT+ services, said Kinlaw’s high channel IQ is sure to open channel doors to Northpoint.
“Sammy understands the needs of the channel very well in terms of financing, go to market and building a channel,” said Fleches. “I am sure he is going to Northpoint because he sees an opportunity to help create new financing avenues for partners whether it is traditional asset based lending and floor planning or as a service financing.”
Kinlaw’s entry into the channel financing market couldn’t come at a better time given the impact of higher interest rates, said Fleches. “Higher interest rates are squeezing everybody,” he said. “It has created an interesting time. The industry is just not used to these interest rates.”
Mike Kiani, president at MK Management, an $80 million MSP which has been recognized as one of TD Synnex’s fastest growing partners, said he is excited that Kinlaw is taking on what has become an obstacle to channel growth.
“Sammy’s appointment at Northpoint is a very positive development for the entire channel community,” he said. “This high interest macro economic environment is hitting everybody. The kind of credit and financing Sammy and Northpoint are bringing to the market is going to allow us to breathe.”
Kinlaw, for his part, called the Northpoint financing offensive a “once in a lifetime” opportunity that is sure to appeal to the broad set of channel ecosystem partners he has worked with over the last three decades. “I am looking forward to meeting with as many partners as I possibly can over the next several months,” he said. “I would ask my vendor and partner friends to be patient because there is going to be a lot of demand for these financing solutions.”
Kinlaw’s final message for his many channel friends: “Northpoint is open for business. Bring it on!”