Editorial: You should never go back

Editorial: You should never go back

In our personal and professional lives, there is an old adage that you should never go back. Those words probably ring true this week for Digiland Australia founder, Laurie Carmichael, who has left the company for a second time just 12 months after rejoining the embattled hardware distributor (see page 4 of the March 5 Edition of ARN Magazine).

When you have been successful at a company once, it is easy to don the rose-tinted spectacles and believe you can do it again. It's hard to say whether Carmichael jumped or was politely asked to leave but the company he returned to a year ago was very different to the one he left in 2000. The market is also unrecognisable.

Digiland has been trying to rebuild during the past couple of years after the loss of contracts with major brands including HP, Epson, Maxtor, Linksys, AMD and MSI. While Carmichael tried hard to put a positive spin on attempts to reinvent itself as a digital home specialist, the truth is it had little choice but to look for opportunities in emerging technologies.

It is common knowledge that Digiland was guilty of putting too many eggs in its HP basket and was dealt a massive blow when losing that agency. The Digiland name is a millstone in this market these days and none of the major brands will touch it. Upon leaving, Carmichael admitted the company had struggled to secure major distributions locally.

So now a new face, Lawrence Sim, has flown in from Singapore to take the reins. But although Digiland is focusing on emerging technologies, where higher margins mean high volumes are not so crucial, he is likely to find it extremely tough going. Unless there is a digital revolution in Australian homes some time soon, you have to wonder how long it will be before head office in Singapore pulls the plug on Australian operations.

As for Carmichael, his 20 years in the industry will make him an attractive proposition for another company before too long. It is difficult to leave an industry after so long and he is likely to pop up somewhere on the merry-go-round in the months ahead.

Dicker Data is another distributor to have recently parted company with a key member of staff - sales manager, Gaynor Foletti. But its attempts to finalise an acquisition are of more general interest to the market (see page 1 of the March 5 Edition of ARN Magazine).

In the recent ARN distributors' supplement, managing director, David Dicker, made it quite clear that he has an aggressive growth agenda this year and is prepared to achieve those aims by getting out his chequebook.

While understandably reluctant to disclose the name of his target to the market, Dicker did say the proposed buyout would extend his company's geographical reach and broaden its product portfolio. As previously reported in ARN, these are both key strategies Dicker plans to employ in an attempt to establish itself as a viable alternative to Ingram Micro.

The other, of course, is to secure distribution rights to HP printers. A new boss is due to take the reins of that business next month and should expect Dicker to be one of the first people knocking on his door.

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