CDW - High Touch in a High-Tech Era (1,778 words)
At computer solutions provider CDW, co-workers call their business model "clicks and people" (1,778 words)
By Donna Loyle
The fiery energy level is immediately apparent. Inside the massive plain gray building is an astonishingly well-choreographed workforce on a mission.
This is the headquarters for CDW Computer Centers, a computer hardware and software solutions provider in Vernon Hills, IL, just outside of Chicago. Downstairs is an orderly and pleasing retail showroom full of laptops, computer screens and other electronic gear. But just behind the doors, just past the threshold, is a bustling atmosphere of automated, integrated activity—the office and mammoth distribution center.
In one area of the office, employees are engaged in an interactive class on a new piece of computer technology. In another section, workers hustle to custom configure equipment (the team can do 1,200 configurations a day) for shipment to clients. Down the hall, account managers sit perched at brightly lit computer workstations organized in aisles marked by city names. Head down the San Antonio aisle to see the gigantic foam cowboy hats propped on cubicle walls. Why the city names and props? "To organize the sales force, foster team-building, and, well, to have some fun," is the matter-of-fact answer.
Back out in the main office area, a woman with a food cart circulates, keeping the casually dressed staffers fueled up. Overhead is a toy train; its cars display inspirational words and the company's vision statement. The train winds its way around the vast office, over the din of brisk banter and clacking keyboards. Instead of looking hokey, the train seems perfectly matched to the playful nature of this place.
Here CDW employees sell computer hardware, software and ancillary equipment to companies all around the country. But they don't just sell product. Rather, they act as solution providers-—true providers—to small and mid-sized companies looking for help with their IT purchases.