The changing of the guard at any distributor is always going to be news, but the announcement last week that Guy Freeland was exiting as vice-president and managing director of Ingram Micro could have ramifications right across the channel.
Freeland came on-board as local boss at a tempestuous time. It was less than a year after Ingram Micro purchased regional distribution powerhouse, Tech Pacific, and integration of the two – logistically and culturally – was still underway. Tech Pacific boss, Kerry Baillie, who led the company successfully for four years, had announced his retirement. Former Ingram Micro head, Steve Rust, who had been director of operations since the merger and boasted a wealth of experience in managing IT companies, had also resigned. Both announcements stunned their peers, although Baillie later told ARN he had been planning his exit for some time.
Freeland, who has a finance background, spent several years as Tech Pac’s regional CFO prior to the Ingram Micro takeover. At the time, several competitors saw his appointment as an attempt by Ingram to rein in costs. Both Synnex and Express Data’s managing directors viewed the choice of a “finance guy” as a refocusing on the bottom line. They predicted he would take a conservative approach, rather than a growth one. Specifically, former Synnex CEO, Frank Sheu, said Freeland was a symbol of further cost-cutting and consolidation.
Since then, Ingram has integrated its systems with Tech Pac’s, built its Enterprise team into a Solutions Division, launched a point-of-sale unit and cemented its position as Australia’s largest IT distributor. Freeland told me at the recent Ingram Micro Enterprise Solutions Awards dinner that it had been a jam-packed three years and I can see why.
It may have been an inauspicious start, but Freeland has earnt the respect of his peers and is now known as one of the gentlemen of the industry. Many vendor and channel representatives applaud the solid management team he has maintained at Ingram. I’d like to join them in wishing Guy well in his future endeavours.
Freeland’s successor, from all accounts, is expected to give things a shake-up. Hailing from California, Jay Miley has spent the past eight years with the distributor – the last two years running its New Zealand business.
The reports we’ve had from across the Tasman indicate the newcomer is a sociable soul who’s not so crash hot at karaoke, but is an avid golfer. Perhaps, more importantly, Miley’s focus on developing closer customer ties, as well as his attention to systems and processes, should help win over resellers and vendors.
While we’re on the subject of mergers and acquisitions, HP has announced former technology group vice-president of sales, David Caspari, as the new vice-president of EDS A/NZ. This, and the 75 local job cuts announced earlier this month, are just the start of the massive integration process facing those two goliaths. Given HP’s experience with Compaq, let’s see how they handle this one, shall we?