Lenovo North America Channel Chief Sammy Kinlaw is leaving the company for a position as vice president worldwide channel and OEM sales at Lexmark, the printing power said.
The jump to the printer manufacturer comes as Lexmark prepares to do battle with industry leaders like HP Inc. and Xerox. Lexmark was acquired in late 2016 by a group of investors led by China-based Apex Technology Co. in a deal that took the Lexington, Ky., company private. Kinlaw begins the new job Feb. 1, Lexmark said in a statement.
"Obviously, [Lexmark] is looking to drive their channel presence and channel programs, and Sammy is really great on that account," said Michael Goldstein, CEO of LAN Infotech, a Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., solution provider that works with Lenovo. "He has that channel focus, and Lexmark has broad appeal and a big name. It's good to see his skills utilized with someone already in the channel."[
Lexmark launched its Connect partner program in early 2016, and has been putting pressure on printing sector rivals like HP Inc., Xerox and others with a powerful stable of A4, laser and industry-specific printing and imaging solutions aimed at the health care and banking sectors. The company named IBM, Nokia, Toshiba and Phoenix Technologies veteran Richard Geruson CEO last October.
Lexmark's go-to-market strategy is led by Senior Vice President and Chief Revenue Officer Brock Saladin.
The idea was floated by analysts in late 2014 that Lenovo could make a play to acquire Lexmark, which manufactures Lenovo-branded printers.
Lenovo, based in Beijing, China, announced Kinlaw's departure Sunday, saying the 13-year company veteran would leave his position as vice president North America Channel and U.S. SMB Jan. 19 for an unspecified opportunity outside the copmany. Kinlaw became Lenovo North America channel chief in April 2015.
Last October, Kinlaw made what he called a "drastic change" to the structure of Lenovo's channel program in an attempt to make pricing and rebates more equitable for resellers. However, partners said the changes would cut into margins significantly and drive buyers to competitors like HP Inc. and Dell.
Lenovo said it has appointed Rob Cato, executive director for public sector, workstation and OEM, to serve as interim North America channel chief while the company searches for a permanent replacement.
Kinlaw began his career at Lenovo in 2005 as director of distribution sales, and was later promoted to executive director of channel sales before becoming North America channel chief. Kinlaw was at IBM for 12 years before joining Lenovo when the company acquired IBM's PC business.
Kinlaw is the latest in a line of executive departures at Lenovo, including North America President Emilio Ghilardi, who stepped down last August after less than 18 months in that position.
Lenovo in recent months has lost ground in the hotly contested PC market. The company's U.S. PC market share slid to fourth place behind HP, Dell and Apple in the third quarter of 2017 while shipments declined 25 percent, according to data from research firm Gartner Inc.