Process over personality

Process over personality

Tell us about your background.

Kee Ong (KO): I have been with the group for about 15 years, originally focused on manufacturing with Mitac. I started with Synnex Australia in 1998. At the time, the company had about 50 staff but only one product specialist. Up until this year I was focused on vendor-facing sales and marketing.

Frank Sheu's departure was a big surprise for many people in the industry. There were rumours that it was linked to disappointing financial performance and the $1.8 million lost following the demise of Omega. What were the real reasons?

KO: Only Frank can tell you but it was not related to Omega. I travelled around Europe for some time before I settled down in Australia. Frank was different. Although he worked in Mitac Asia-Pacific, he had been in Australia for close to 15 years. He wanted to experience other challenges and found an opportunity in the Middle East. This was his decision - it wasn't related to Synnex.

How do you plan to put your stamp on the company?

KO: Synnex is not just about one person. It should be based on a management team. The managing director provides direction but we rely on the product managers. This company has grown locally from scratch without acquisitions. We attempted one or two in the past but haven't managed to close them so growth has been organic.

The whitebox community is losing share in the local PC market. What challenges does that present?

KO: It is hard for every business in this industry, not just the whitebox community. I think whitebox is facing some big challenges, but I think we have had these challenges for a couple of years. So far, whitebox is still going strong.

In terms of overcoming these challenge - what advice do you have for the whitebox community?

KO: They need to focus more on building brand equity and service infrastructure so that they can compete with tier-one vendors. They also need to reduce focus on price competition. You need to invest in infrastructure in order to compete.

Synnex has largely built its business on the components market and working with the whitebox community. How much has whitebox decline affected your business?

KO: I wouldn't say it has had a major affect because we diversified the business 3-4 years ago. A lot of people still have the perception that Synnex is just an OEM distributor but this is very wrong. The OEM business is important to Synnex because we grew from that. But we're actually becoming quite broad based.

So what percentage of the Synnex business is now OEM?

KO: About half. It's still significant for us but moving forward I see that OEM ratio decreasing. This doesn't mean the value won't increase because we are growing our OEM component market share. But the other side of the business is growing very fast. We have large OEM market share and you can't expect to maintain double-digit growth year after year.

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