The leader of commercial sales for Lenovo’s North America operations is “out.”

The departure means more responsibility for Emilio Ghilardi, Lenovo’s president for North America operations.

Chris Frey, a long-time Lenovo veteran, had been named North America vice president and general manager for commercial sales (PCs and servers), 18 months ago. He replaced another long-time and very well-known Lenovo/IBM veteran Tom Looney, who retired.

CRN reported Frey’s departure on Friday, declaring in a headline that Frey was “out.”

Lenovo server sales fell 10 percent in the first quarter of this year, and the company has made numerous changes in the business. The world’s top PC seller has continued to increase market share globally even as overall sales have declined.

However, North America has been a bright spot for Lenovo, which operates one of its two executive headquarters in Morrisville.

x86 mistakes

Frey had been given “a charter to significantly expand Lenovo’s footprint in large commercial accounts,” CRN reported.

In a speech to business partners in June, Frey said Lenovo had made mistakes after acquiring IBM’s x86 server business two years earlier – and he promised changes.

“I promise you that you will see branding happening in this geography, across social media, regular media, that we’re going to tell the world that we’re in this business. Just like we did on the PC front,” he said, according to news website Channel Partners.

Looking back at the x86 buy, Frey said Lenovo erred in its sales approach.

“Our mistake was, we thought the server business was like the PC business. We thought it was a commodity business. We told you to sell one- and two-unit towers,” he said. “We forgot or we didn’t know or we were ignorant, that you sell solutions in the data center, not just a piece of hardware.”

The server business group is based in the Triangle near the headquarters campus.

Frey’s role split

To replace Frey, Ghilardi will serve as acting general manager for commercial PC sales. Data center responsibilities will go to Cliff Gumkowski, who currently is vice president of North America Data Center Group Sales, according to CRN.

Ghilardi took the North America post in March as part of a regoranization.

“After devoting 22 years to IBM and Lenovo, Chris Frey has decided to leave the company to spend more time with his family,” a Lenovo spokesperson said in an email to CRN. “We are grateful for his dedication and commitment to Lenovo and leadership of our channel and commercial sales organizations over the years.”

Frey joined Lenovo after IBM sold its PC business to Lenovo in 2005.

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