Giving back to the community

Giving back to the community

Tonnex International director, George Solomon, started the consumables distributor over 10 years ago. He spoke to ARN about milestones as well as his plans to give back to the community.

What was your first job?

My first full-time job was as a sales cadet for a stationery company called IG Supplies. I joined them in 1988 as an internal sales person and progressed from there.

How did you get into IT?

Back then it wasn’t IT as such – ribbons and disc was as IT as it got. I moved from there and worked for a company called IPL, which is Oki’s Australian supplier, for a short time. That was my introduction into the printer side of the business. Then I went to a company called Tomasetti Office Products, which is where I got some exposure to the IT side. I went to Sydney and ran the national telemarketing operation. We were supplying the major banks around Australia.

How did you come to establish Tonnex International?

Tomasetti was part of Amcor, and Amcor decided to pull the pin on the office products side. I was based in Sydney but originally from Melbourne and was with them for nearly two years when they decided to close that operation nationally. I moved back to the Melbourne office but realistically had no job there and would have had to go into the paper division. That wasn’t my cup of tea so I moved on and started a business with my business partner, George [Kozman], who was selling mobile phones at the time. With our combined client bases we started the Tonnex business. That was 11 years ago. George was mainly selling into the corporate and government sector. Because Tomasetti had closed the doors I had access to some corporates, as well. We bought some stock from Tomasetti and started from there.

What was the next step in the company’s development?

We started as a reseller rather than a wholesaler. Within a year our reseller business had grown significantly and we’d become one of the major customers for a Victorian wholesaler, Jet Technologies, who wanted to go in partnership. There weren’t really any Victorian wholesale computer suppliers at that time – the main one was Daisytek in Sydney. We have since sold the reseller business off because you can’t have both. It took us a while to get going as there was lots to learn and sourcing was difficult – it’s hard as a small fish to knock on vendor’s doors and it takes a while to prove yourself. But we’ve built a good and solid reputation over the years.

What do you like about your current job?

You don’t have two days that are the same. I thrive on challenges. The relationships I’ve built over the years with suppliers and customers is amazing and I’ve learnt something new every day. I’ve seen things grow and change and it keeps you on your toes.

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