Sydney-based retail technology and mobility distributor, Sektor Distributors has acquired Perth-based rugged tablet distributor, J Mills Distribution, for an undisclosed sum.
J Mills was first established in 1985 and as a result, its managing director, Alan Duncan, will be hanging up his boots.
Duncan told ARN he got a call from Sektor’s Rhys Warren about six weeks ago stating his intentions to buy the company.
“I basically said the business wasn’t for sale. I had a three-to-five year plan, but he didn’t care. He flew to Perth, I sat back and really thought about it,” Duncan said. “I’ve had a three-to-five year plan for about 15 years, and I’m 68 this year. I really had to look at it seriously and discussions went on from there.
“I have no idea what I’m going to be doing, my feet haven’t really touched the ground in the last five weeks, it’s been a pretty stressful period. I’m getting emails from everyone I know saying I’ve got to take up golf.”
Duncan bought the business in 1989 and back then it was specialising in software for companies like Electronic Arts and Dataflow.
“I quickly realised it wasn’t the business I wanted to be in and hardware distribution was where I saw us progressing,” Duncan said. “I remember doing a stock count in 1989 with three or four NetComm modems on the shelf - I didn’t know what a modem was, and there was a Panasonic printer box in a dark corner, and those two products got J Mills Distribution off the ground. They were 80 per cent of our business at one point.”
Duncan said the distributor had re-invented itself a few times throughout the years. At one point it had 19 suppliers like NetComm, Netgear, Sony, Samsung, but they had fallen by the wayside.
“It’s been a long and bumpy ride,” he said.
In past five years, J Mills transitioned into mobility and rugged products, with its Motion Computing deal as the main trigger behind its success.
“Sektor is well placed to take the business to a new level and the time has come for me to hang up my boots, confident in the knowledge that the Motion business is in safe hands,” he said.
Some of the key lessons that Duncan has learnt during his time in the distribution game have been put down to not always believing what suppliers say and being able to re-invent your business.
“They’re always saying you’re getting the best price, but then you find out that you’re not. There’s been some fairly painful lessons in that area, but our success has been with companies that have a level playing field,” he said.
It will be business as usual for J Mills customers and the company will come under Sektor’s branding. Most J Mills staff will be transitioning across.
Sektor Distributors A/NZ managing director, Rhys Warren, said this was part of its investment and focus into mobility, POS and infrastructure to support its partner network. The distributor has offices in Sydney, Melbourne and Perth.
Sektor general manager, Cameron Arnold, said there was increasing demand from the partner community for tablet devices.
“J Mills were leading the charge in the tablet market,” Arnold said. “There’s a great cultural fit between the two businesses, they’re a genuine value-add distributor and this will broaden our reseller database significantly.”
Arnold said there were always acquisition options on the cards. It was open to businesses that fit into its culture and offered the opportunity to expand its partner community.