Techplus Distribution's Paul Kern talks to ARN.
What was your first job?
I started full-time work in the IT industry about 15 years ago, working for a then well-known computer retailer selling PCs, software and accessories. It was a great grass-roots start in the industry.
How did you end up in the IT industry?
I had a strong interest in computers at school. Back in those days we had to time-share on a terminal connected to a VAX system at the education department, and used Holerith Cards to get our programs onto the server. I went on to university and studied electronic engineering and computer science.
How did you progress to where you are today?
I worked for a few computer retail entities in sales and management roles but was then head-hunted into a sales role in a wholesale distribution business. This move gave me a much better appreciation of how much more there was to the IT market and the value that this segment plays in the channel. I worked at several wholesale companies before moving into an A/NZ channel management role with a Canadian IT manufacturer called Perle Systems, which was very well known in the IBM AS/400 space. The position at Perle taught me a great deal about the strengths of each layer of the channel and how to utilise the best value from each of these layers. It also taught me that any vendor that wants to succeed in Australia has to have an absolutely dedicated channel model, and has to treat its channel as "partners" not "pawns". I started Techplus Distribution about four years ago when I saw a need emerging for a value-added distributor to bring higher end products to market for up and coming vendors, but remain small and flexible enough to be an attractive partner for SME resellers.
What do you like about your current job?
I really love looking for leading edge equipment and then running it through its paces. I'm a techie at heart, so it's the playing with technology that keeps me interested.
What do you dislike most about the IT industry?
It grieves me sadly when I see vendors who bypass distributors and resellers in their greed for instant sales gratification. This is not the way to long-term success and stability and really undermines the people in the channel that put in the hard yards. It is also frustrating when resellers align so closely with one vendor that they are willing to forgo better solutions from others. This does not do justice to the faith that their customers have put in them to provide them with the best solution for the job, and is also a precarious position for the reseller should that vendor go under or cut them from their channel.
What will be the 'next big thing' in the industry?
The Internet is life these days, so anything that harnesses the power of that will always be popular. This puts incredible importance on the availability, reliability and security of connectivity and I expect there to be more and more emphasis and requirement for products and services in this area.
What is the main focus for your company this year?
As it has always been - Wide Area Network connectivity and Network Security - but with a stronger emphasis on WAN Acceleration technologies.
What do you do when you are not at work?
I have a 20-acre farm that keeps me very busy on the weekends. There is always a fence to fix or animals to tend to. When I can find spare time I also like to take friends and family flying around the beautiful Yarra Valley - which is my home.
Do you like gadgets?
I am sinking under the weight of gadgets. What I really need is a gadget that can consolidate all my other gadgets.
What did you want to be when you were younger?
Like all boys I wanted to be a pilot. This is something I have since achieved on a private level - and I enjoy the freedom the skies offer from time to time.
What is your biggest ambition?
To enjoy all aspects of life. When things stop being fun, I stop doing them.