Bluechip Infotech has become the latest Australian IT distributor to join the national ranks after opening an office in Western Australia.
The 650sqm site in Perth's Osborne Park, which includes 450sqm of warehousing, currently employs six staff but the company has plans to add to that number this month.
"To be considered a national distributor you need to have an office in Perth," Bluechip managing director, Johnson Hsiung, said. "This has always been part of our plan but first we needed to establish really solid operations in the Eastern states and make sure we had enough vendor support before coming here."
Hsiung said initial reaction from local dealers had been very positive - largely because they were happy to see another player in the WA market following Ingram Micro's acquisition of Tech Pacific.
More than 130 dealers turned up to an opening event at the Burswood Conference Centre in Perth last week to see what Bluechip had to offer. Representatives from Acer, Aopen, Eaton and Xyzel were also in attendance to demonstrate their products.
The new Bluechip operation in Perth turned over $500,000 in January - its first full month of business.
Hsiung said this figure should reach $1 million per month by June.
Headquartered in Sydney, Bluechip also has facilities in Melbourne and Brisbane. Its Queensland office opened a little over a year ago and turned over $1.5 million last month.
Hsiung is aiming for $2 million per month in the Smart State before the end of the year.
The only state capital now missing from the company's portfolio is Adelaide, which can be serviced overnight from Melbourne.
Hsiung said Bluechip was unlikely to establish a presence there anytime soon because it would be difficult to generate the revenues to make it a viable proposition.
It is now a little over a year since Bluechip merged with BBF Peripherals. The agreement was signed in August 2003 but the two companies didn't start to behave as a single entity until January 2004 because combining backend systems proved to be a difficult task.
Admitting the merger had been more complicated than he had expected, Hsiung said any difficulties he faced would pale into insignificance when compared to the job ahead for Ingram Micro.
"The aim is to cause as little disruption as possible for your dealers and vendor partners but the merger was definitely more difficult than we had thought it would be," he said. "It will be 10 times more difficult for Ingram Micro and Tech Pacific because of the scale of their operations."
But despite the complications of merging Ingram with Tech Pac, Hsiung predicted the new powerhouse would eventually put a tighter squeeze on smaller state-based or niche distributors.
"There isn't much growth in the IT market at the moment," he said. "Smaller distributors and importers are going to have a tough time because Ingram is going to be aggressive with major vendors like HP and Toshiba because it needs to retain its market share.
"The vendors won't want Ingram to use its volume to hurt the smaller distributors through pricing but greater volume brings bigger rebates, more buying power and more marketing funds to attract resellers."
- Brian Corrigan travelled to Perth as a guest of Bluechip Infotech.