Former Merisel managing director Patrick Woods has been contracted as a consultant by TechPac following the recent buyout. "My dedication at this point is to ensure that the vendors and customers don't suffer through all of this. I want to make sure the transition goes as smoothly as possible," he said.
Are rumours that, despite its stature, Merisel was performing poorly in Australia true? "No. The actual sale of the asset was not in any way related to the performance of the company in Australia. The sale was wholly and solely due to [US-based] Merisel's decision to focus on its core competencies in the US and Canada," said Woods, who described the buyout as "very sudden".
"Merisel is having difficulties overseas and didn't feel it had the resources to sustain a subsidiary in a remote location. They view Australia as a remote location and were maintaining a presence here as a springboard into Asia. But, when the corporation started having problems, they said 'We haven't got time for Asia, why should we be in Australia?'"Is Merisel on the ropes then? "It's difficult to say. Dwight Stevenson, who is Merisel's CEO, and Ron Rittenmeyer, who's the COO, have both said 'anything could happen'. They've talked about selling Computerland in the US," he said. "Without question, they've got some tough decisions to make."
Woods says he doesn't think TechPac's buyout will bring about many discernible changes to the channel, at least from the perspective of resellers. "I've actually been very impressed with TechPac's attitude on dealing with resellers," he said. "They're making great efforts to let the resellers know they'll be serviced as before and that they'll have access to product line."
Under the old setup, Australia had two distribution titans: TechPac and Merisel. Now it's down to one. Who will move to fill Merisel's now-departed shoes? "Australia's a very competitive marketplace and I'd be sceptical about any other international distributors coming in at this stage of the game, when they're all facing difficulties," Woods said. "It'll be interesting to see what some of the State and regional distributors do. It's anybody's guess as to what happens."
Woods, who is Canadian, says he's keeping all of his options open. "I've got a good track record, I'm proud of what the company's achieved and I'll take that experience forward into whatever I get into next," he said. Will he stay in Australia? "Absolutely, that's an easy one. My family and I enjoy the place too much to leave."