Securing the next growth phase

Securing the next growth phase

SoftGen general manager, Guy Coles, joined the distributor earlier this year and has been steadily expanding the business into new product areas. He spoke to ARN about his background in security, the company’s growth plans and his love of the industry.

What has been your focus in the last six months?

We have traditionally been in the development space and we’ve done really well. I have come on-board and told the directors that’s great – we shouldn’t dilute that effort – but we need to start venturing out from that mindset if we’re going to achieve the growth we want to achieve. We have gone into some non-traditional areas for SoftGen, which made the managing director [Jim Bradshaw] a little nervous, but he’s warmed to it. We’re looking predominantly at the security space, where I have a lot of experience. It’s an area that we don’t think will diminish in this tight market. We see security as an area we can grow, but we have been careful in who we have aligned with. I’m a firm believer that if you sit on your hands, the birds peck your head.

Where were you before SoftGen?

I worked most recently with Excom Education, Insight [formerly Software Spectrum] and have had my foot in lots of camps in the last 14 years. It’s given me a rounded view of the industry and an ability to look at things from different perspectives.

What was your first job?

I was a courier for the Sydney Eye Hospital straight out of school. Shortly after that, my father and I set-up a company manufacturing spirit levels. Ours was unique because it was the first that could measure every angle between a perfect horizontal and vertical.

How did you progress to IT?

I was in the building industry for 12 years working for a company that manufactured windows and doors. So I’ve been using windows so long I remember when it was made of wood. In the 1990s, the building industry was collapsing, so I went to a recruiter friend of mine and asked him to help me get out of the industry. I had bought a computer and thought they looked fun, so I asked if there was anything in that area. Within a couple of months I was the territory manager for Vet (now owned by CA). Vet was a dynamic family company – I was employee number 19 – and we took them to number one in the northern region and then a national level.

Were you there when CA bought VET in 1999?

It was the biggest cultural change for me ever. By then Vet had about 130 people. I learnt a lot at CA because there were so many different parts of the organisation and it was a very complex beast here and overseas.

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