What is your outlook for 2009? How do you see the market playing out?
Jay Miley (JM): I think it is going to be a tough market this year. Ingram’s business is so diverse and people want to paint us with a broad-line distribution paintbrush, but we’re in several unique businesses, some which are going to have a hard go of it this year, but some which I think are going to be growth opportunities. Net-net, it is a tough market – you don’t have to be a rocket scientist to figure that out when you take a look at the financial magazines and the daily newspapers. Everything is pretty bleak. But I am an eternal optimist, so I believe where there is turmoil, there is opportunity. Those companies that are financially strong – which we are as we probably have the best balance sheet in the IT marketplace – will be able to leverage their strengths in down markets to capitalise on the opportunities. I’m not saying our competition won’t be able to do that as well, but I like our odds.
Can you give us some examples of tough areas and areas of opportunity?
I don’t think this is going to be a surprise but some of the more commoditised spaces and the print market for us are continuing to be tough. Mostly where the ASPs go down real quick is where we are having probably a tougher time than not. But if you were to go out and look at the announcements our vendors are making, we’re sharing in that pain with those that are having difficult times that we have a large share of the market with. But those that are growing, we are sharing in the growth. I’d probably leave it at that, but I do think the stuff you hear us refer to as solutions [are opportunities]. We are making investments in unified communications. The areas where you see us making investments in, we make them for a reason and my view on it is our solutions business is going to be a healthy, robust opportunity for us. For some of our volume categories, the opportunity will be to do things in a more effective, efficient and smarter way. I would be remiss if didn’t tell you we have concerns about the overall health of the market, but so far it is not showing up in our numbers. My view in November and my view today, and in November I was really just starting to get comfortable in the seat, is not too dissimilar.
Since that time, have you made any changes to the structure or the way you are going about business?
Not yet. Guy [Freeland, former Ingram Micro managing director] was here until the end of the year and I did a lot of knowledge sharing with him – mostly him sharing his knowledge with me and not vice-versa in the December period. In January, I moved my family over here [from New Zealand] and I’ve been hitting the ground. I spent most of my time in January talking to our vendor partners, our customer partners and our associates. I’m starting to get a feel for the things that are maybe opportunities as well as some of the things that are maybe our Achilles heel. But, at this stage of the game, I haven’t made any significant changes to how we do things.