Michael Roberts, whose company, SourceDirect.com, sells and services Hewlett-Packard servers, smiles when asked, “Just how much does H-P hate you?”
He points toward the parking lot of his offices near Addison Airport. “We often joke in our sales meetings that before we go out there, we need to remember to put on our Kevlar vests,” he says.
SourceDirect.com is the largest reseller of Hewlett-Packard server products in the country. That means they don’t work with H-P; they compete against it—even though they hawk the computer giant’s wares.
In 1989, he started his company in his Dallas apartment, reselling H-P servers. He was quickly asked by H-P to become an authorized “channel partner”—essentially given the company’s seal of approval. “It was the worst decision I ever made,” Roberts says.
Now SDC, which hopes to expand to 10 cities by year’s end, can undercut H-P by as much as 40 percent on average. “Now I’m H-P public enemy No. 1,” he says. “But as long as we wear that Kevlar, I can handle it.”