Building a strong Cisco practice isn’t something that happens overnight, and it certainly isn’t up to only one or even a handful of team members. It’s truly a team effort. This is why SYNNEX Comstor strives to provide a comprehensive support system via its award-winning EDGE360 program, empowering Cisco partners to leverage the resources and expertise of the Cisco experts at SYNNEX Comstor.
In this installment of the Meet the People series, we’re featuring the SYNNEX Comstor engineering team. These are the folks who can get into the nitty-gritty of Cisco technology and ensure that partners are supported in the best way possible by selecting the right technology solutions for their needs.
Here’s what these team members had to share about their role at SYNNEX Comstor and how they work toward building a supportive network for Cisco partners:
Michael Locke, Technical Support Engineer III at SYNNEX Comstor
Years with SYNNEX Comstor: 9
Years in His Field: 24
Fun Fact: He’s a gamer! He loves to play games like World of Tanks, Call of Duty, and Star Wars: The Old Republic.
Michael came out of the U.S. military with a background in electronics. He started off his civilian career in video conferencing as a Field Engineer traveling to customer sites all over North America. “Using the knowledge I gained in maintenance and support, I found a calling in pre-sales technical support,” Locke said. As a Pre-Sales Collaboration and Enterprise Networking Engineer, Locke really enjoys working closely with his customers to make their goals a reality. “Taking a vision from my customer and building into a real system order makes us both happy!”
Locke thinks it’s important for partners to find their niche in the Cisco world and be the best at providing those products and services. And he and his team are there to help make it happen.
Lance Loftin, Technical Sales Engineer at SYNNEX Comstor
Years with SYNNEX Comstor: 6
Years in His Field: 6
Fun Fact: He is a die-hard outdoorsman and can usually be found backpacking, rock-climbing, or hiking somewhere in Colorado on most weekends.
“I originally started a career with Cisco technology by working on various certifications while I was in another field,” Loftin stated. “I had networking in mind for a long time as a possible career option, but it wasn’t until I met someone who later became my mentor that I actually decided to make the jump. I’ve been working with Cisco technology ever since!”
As a Technical Sales Engineer, Loftin’s sole purpose it to assist Cisco partners with technical solutions with a focus on building trust as an advisor. “I strive to provide quality customer service and build relationships with our partners.” He encourages partners to get familiar with all the resources that are at their disposal, especially because SYNNEX Comstor offers so many different programs that are tailor-made to reduce the complexity of navigating through Cisco’s robust ecosystem. “My team is here to help when additional manpower and consulting is needed as well,” shared Loftin.
Brent Gardner, Solutions Architect at SYNNEX Comstor
Years with SYNNEX Comstor: 5
Years in His Field: 20
Fun Fact: He is a licensed private pilot and an avid scuba diver.
Right after completing his college education, Gardner joined the Peace Corps in Ecuador, but had to return state-side after becoming very sick. “After recovering, I sat down with my brother and discussed my career options,” he said. “On a whim I decided to get my CCNA in routing and switching. I enjoyed Cisco technology so much that I had my CCIE after three years and I haven’t looked back since.”
As a Solutions Architect, Gardner focuses on putting together programs to help partners. He developed SYNNEX Comstor’s proof of value capabilities and is currently working on developing some quick start lab workshops. “Many times, I work behind the scenes when some of our more junior engineers have questions or need help,” he added. “When our partners want to develop a managed service offering or are working on a highly complex design, I help them with these initiatives.”
Because there are so many ways to get up and running with Cisco, Gardner encourages partners to pick a specific technology to start with and work from there. “Getting up to speed can be a little confusing, but we’re here to help you begin this journey.”
Evan Weissman, Technical Sales Engineer III at SYNNEX Comstor
Years with SYNNEX Comstor: 5
Years in His Field: 9
Fun Fact: He is an avid pool/billiards player. He is in multiple leagues and participates in many semi-pro tournaments annually.
Evan Weissman’s path to where he is now is a winding one. Out of college, he started in telephony and worked in IT for a few years, but then wanted to start his own business. So, he went into real estate. “Over the years, I realized that I missed being on the forefront of technology and decided to get my Cisco certifications and get into networking,” he said. What he really enjoys about his current role is troubleshooting and solving technical issues for customers.
At SYNNEX Comstor, Weissman works as a Technical Sales Engineer, specializing in security solutions. “I help customers assess their current security posture and provide guidance on improvement with the latest solutions that Cisco has to offer,” he told us. He offers partners assistance with Cisco products, licensing, and cloud security solutions to assist in bill of materials builds where configuration can be challenging. He encourages partners to reach out to him and his colleagues to have a discussion on how to better assist end-users in improving their network security.
Steven Johnson, Technical Sales Engineer at SYNNEX Comstor
Years with SYNNEX Comstor: 4
Years in His Field: 4
Fun Fact: He enjoys woodworking and wire wrapping. He’s also getting into mountain biking.
Steven Johnson was introduced to the networking world through his previous job deploying the IT infrastructure for detention center solutions. He dabbled in the networking portion as an amateur; when problems needed fixing and there was no one else on the job site to fix them, he stepped in. “That really sparked my interest in the networking industry and spurred me to get my Cisco certification to pursue a new career,” Johnson said.
At SYNNEX Comstor, Johnson takes on the role of assisting sales reps and their customers with all things related to general routing and switching, IoT devices, and wireless networks. This includes everything from building an estimate for the sales team to use for a quote, to putting together wireless solutions with tools like Ekahau site survey. He also makes himself available to talk directly with customers if they have questions or need help with a specific solution.
His advice for Cisco partners: “I would start by engaging with the SYNNEX Comstor EDGE program, as it provides many benefits to new partners and can help tremendously with navigating what can be a very complicated Cisco world.”
Logan Swartz, Supervisor, Technical Sales Engineer at SYNNEX Comstor
Years with SYNNEX Comstor: 2.5
Years in His Field: 10
Fun Fact: He is a hardcore adrenaline junkie, spending his free time jumping out of planes, off bridges, and anything that gets his heart pumping.
Logan Swartz’s interest in engineering started during his undergraduate studies; he became fascinated with taking things apart and trying to improve them. “After college, I realized I could do that on a larger scale by designing technical solutions,” he explained. “Each request that comes our way at SYNNEX Comstor is like a jigsaw puzzle that we must put together as efficiently as possible and that excites me.”
As a Technical Sales Engineer on the Pre-Sales Engineering Team, Swartz assists partners with any technical questions on Cisco and creates a bill of materials and designing solutions for partners in need. “If you have any uncertainty or aren’t sure where to start, please reach out to our team,” Swartz urged. “Cisco products are fantastic, and we can help you get started.”
Peter Cross, Field Sales Engineer II at SYNNEX Comstor
Years with SYNNEX Comstor: 1.5
Years in His Field: 15
Fun Fact: He is an identical twin and is very close with his brother, who he served with in the USMC.
After completing his service with the U.S. Marine Corps, Peter Cross found his way into engineering when he was given an opportunity to join a tech team in the distribution channel. “I knew next to nothing about hardware, but because I had built my own computers, the company was willing to train me,” he stated. “Now 15 years later, I’m a Cisco Certified Network Associate in Security and am looking to complete my CCNP. All of this because someone was willing to take a risk. Never be afraid to expand your knowledge. You never know the good that will come of it!”
Cross spends a large amount of his time helping partners to connect the dots within Cisco’s technology portfolio. He works closely with each partner to find the right solution for them (in a sea of more than 600,000 Cisco hardware options), showcasing the value that SYNNEX Comstor brings to the table.
He advises that new partners reach out directly to him and other field sales engineers to help them figure out their technical bench and leverage the EDGE360 platform in the process. “We’ll help demystify Cisco’s partnership levels and get you on the path to a profitable Cisco partnership.”
Larry Starling, Field Sales Engineer at SYNNEX Comstor
Years with SYNNEX Comstor: 1
Years in His Field: 20
Fun Fact: He is an avid trail runner, at least in his mind.
Larry Starling has explored a few different positions in the engineering field. He started as a programmer building custom GUIs for user applications, then moved to a Sales Engineer role developing hardware and software solutions for customers. Starling stated, “Having a role as a Sales Engineer provides me the opportunity to equip customers with the tools they need to succeed.”
Starling understands that partners are what makes SYNNEX Comstor successful as a company and that proactively providing them with the tools they need for a strong Cisco practice is a win-win. This can include anything from navigating Cisco processes, to assisting with product migrations, to helping end-users with their specific solution needs.
“To be as successful as possible as a partner, take advantage of all the certifications and authorizations that you can,” he said. “While it will take an investment in your time, the added benefits of customer exposure and additional revenue and rebates make it worth it.”
Brett Thompson, Pre-Sales Technical Solutions Engineer at SYNNEX Comstor
Years with SYNNEX Comstor: 1
Years in His Field: 15
Fun Fact: He is overly obsessive about this lawn. “Some call it a compulsive disorder; I like to think of it as therapy.”
Brett Thompson got his start in engineering after a friend of his got a job in the field and convinced him to give it a try. Whether it was for the referral bonus he got or because he really thought it would be a fit, his friend was right, and Thompson found himself enjoying the work. “I think what excites me about the job the most is it’s constantly changing. You’re always learning new things,” he said.
As a Pre-Sales Technical Solutions Engineer, he is focused mostly on data center products and helps Cisco partners by creating and validating Cisco bill of materials and assists with any questions they might have throughout the process. “Cisco is a large animal. Be sure to partner with a company that understands the ins and outs,” he advised.
Years with SYNNEX Comstor: 0.5
Years in His Field: 11
Fun Fact: He enjoys rock climbing, producing music, and appreciating nature in his spare time.
Gregory Hunt discovered his passion for technology in high school, where he started out building and repairing computers. Over the years, he has progressed through desktop support, systems administration, and is now in sales engineering. “I love to make sure that customers get the best technology solutions possible for their needs,” he explained.
At SYNNEX Comstor, Hunt specializes in Cisco Security products as well as routing and switching hardware. He helps partners acquire the right sized NGFW (Next Generation Firewall) and route/switch solutions. He also offers demos for the Cisco Security portfolio. Hunt said, “There’s never been a better time to get started with Cisco and take your network to the next level!”