After four months in the top job, Express Data CEO, David Gage, sat down with ARN to talk about his top priorities, the importance of looking after staff, customers and suppliers, and what’s in store for Express Data during the next few months.
What are some of your top priorities in your new role?
David Gage (DG): During the last four months, I spent a lot of time trying to be as connected as I can to our staff, customers and vendors. I’ve been to each of the branches, getting in front of customers and understanding what they’re looking for out of distribution and how we can continue to improve and add value to their efforts. Our customers and vendors are best placed to give us advice in regard to what we should be doing. It’s important that we’re active and we listen to them. With me leading this business we’re absolutely focused on our customers and vendors, we’ll be looking at how we can take costs out of reseller businesses, increase their profitability and how we can deliver on the promises they’re making to their end users.
How would you describe your leadership style?
DG: One of our core philosophies at ED has been empowering our people to make decisions, and I’ll continue with that. The role of management is to provide expertise and act as mentors to people that are constantly in contact with our customers.
Key lessons you’ve learnt so far?
DG: I’ve been incredibly luckily to have the two best mentors you could have in distribution in Jon Shein and Ross Cochrane. The key lesson that we live by is that you need to look after your staff, customers and suppliers or somebody else will. It’s simple, but if you keep it top of mind, you can’t go wrong.
What are some of the company’s plans over the next couple of months?
DG: We want to get the integration of Simms bedded down. The plan is to have that fully operational by the beginning of September. Beyond that I want to continue to push ED in our traditional business further into the value space. I’ll be looking at areas where we can take cost out of reseller businesses and assist with the profitability of their businesses. We have a cloud services business unit that we started up about two years ago and we’re gaining some really good traction. I don’t think it’s going to represent massive revenue for us in the short term, but it positions us as the experts in that field from a distribution point of view. We’re doing a lot of work with our customers in helping them to formulate their plans for the Cloud – whether they’re going to be a Cloud builder, provider or reseller. We’re talking them through the different vendor Cloud models and really assisting them in determining how they’re going to remain profitable and relevant into the future. In a lot of cases, they’re appreciating that advice.
How is the Simms integration progressing?
DG: We set ourselves a pretty aggressive 60-day plan. We have all the Simms staff moved across to the Botany office. We made a decision to address all areas of the market, but in terms of sales effort, we’re going to run them as a separate unit. However, they’ll leverage the same backend and resources with distribution and warehousing functions. In terms of sales effort, they’re targeting different areas of the market and we’ll have unique sales teams as a result of that.
Are there any areas you’ll be looking to improve within ED?
DG: There’s always an opportunity to improve and one of the core philosophies of our business is that we never stand still. We’re in an industry that’s constantly changing, and we like to change before we have to, to stay ahead of our competitors.
We’ve always had a heavy focus on attracting, retaining and developing the best people in the industry and we’ll be doubling our efforts to ensure there’s an enormous focus on our people and culture.