Impact Systems' Peter Agamalis talks to ARN.
What was your first job?
I was 15 years old when I did work experience at a real estate office. I successfully rented a house to a young family and was asked by management if I would pursue a career in real estate/ property management. I took up the offer and started full-time. At that point I didn't really care about school as I was completing my year 10 exams so I began taking holidays without my parents knowing.
How did you end up in the IT industry?
My first accountant introduced me to a gentleman who shared accountants with a large IT wholesaler. I was trying to sell mobile phones and pagers at the time. They were the 'in thing' in the late 80s and margins were massive, but I didn't have the capital or clientele. I eventually caught up with the wholesaler and he hired me on $150 per week. Back then I didn't know what a floppy disk drive or motherboard was. I recall getting a two-hour crash course and had to get straight into selling product. Eventually he moved out of his garage and into a retail store.
How did you progress to where you are today?
When I was 19 or 20, my girlfriend at the time, now my wife, Melba, suggested I start my own business. Out of sheer desperation with no income, I robbed her piggy bank, borrowed some small change and utilised her granny flat to start a wholesale distribution company called Discount Peripherals Pty Ltd. For 2-3 years I had no computer, using an old typewriter to do invoices and an old fax and copier that we bought at auction. It was certainly a challenge given the country was in a recession. Many friends and family were pessimistic about my future. However, I prevailed and after four years I hired some staff and was turning over $4 million. I later moved into a factory unit and employed more people, who were key to making my business grow. In 1995-1997 we were faced with many challenges that forced us to enter the vertical market. We did so until 2001 when we decided to go back into wholesale distribution. Previously most of our products were local. Today we import a significant amount, which has led Impact to be recognised as a decent sized outfit. I couldn't have done it without my team. We're one big happy family.
What do you like about your current job?
It gives me a great deal of satisfaction that I have made some form of 'impact' - pardon the pun - in the computer marketing industry. I love the fact my team has grown with me and I can help customers share in our success. I'm my own boss and can come and go as I please but I'm very dedicated to my work. I have met a lot of great people and it's certainly taught me a lot in life.
What is the biggest achievement of your career?
Leading Impact into the market in 2002 with a number of product sets that really placed us on the map, to the point where we became recognised as selling probably the fastest growing IT product category at the time. Not to mention winning a number of large contracts against the competition.
What do you dislike most about the IT industry?
Not a great deal in fact. Margins are always an issue and having to monitor the competition is a challenge. Having suppliers do the dirty on you and go to your customers directly after you spend a large portion of time, money and effort on their product - that's really annoying.
What will be the 'next big thing'?
I believe the digital home and media platform will be the next big thing. We are gearing up soon to provide a total solution for our channel to include as a value add. It will provide them with another avenue other than the traditional desktop market. Broadband, mobility and CE products will add to the equation.
What do you do when you are not at work?
Mostly I'm at home with my family enjoying our new home. I spend a great deal of time with my children on our property and love to work the land. I also love going out to dinner and having a great time amongst good company. I'm living life to the full by going on holidays often enough and partying more than I should. I have several fancy cars so I tend to put them through their paces now and again.
Do you like gadgets? If so, what is your favourite?
I have just installed a new custom designed smart house system at home. I installed 15-inch touch screens where I can play music, watch movies or TV in any part of the house by controlling them through these panels. I can also view my kids or anyone entering via a number of cameras around the property. The screens act as video intercoms where we can talk and see each other. My home theatre is also one of my favourite past times and I enjoy watching action movies in it. Other than that, I have a room full of stuff which remains in boxes.
What did you want to be when you were younger?
I've always had a soft spot for animals and wanted to be some kind of park ranger. As kids we used to put out fires in the area which made me want to become a fireman. Recently, I wanted to register as a volunteer but my wife won't let me.
If you weren't in IT, what would you be doing now?
I reckon I'd be a good real estate agent, or maybe get into property development.
What is your biggest ambition?
I'm not a greedy person, so if I'm blessed with all the good things I've worked hard for and watch my kids grow up healthy and be comfortable at retirement time, then I'm a happy man. As Impact Systems continues, then I can honestly say I've done something pretty cool in life. I can look back and tell my kids stories about how their old man kicked some butt in his day.