Ingram reiterates customer service following staff cuts and branch closures
- 11 March, 2009 10:39
Ingram Micro has trimmed 7 per cent of its headcount and closed two state branches as part of a significant restructure of its national operations. The news comes a week after the distributor shed 16 staff from its credit department and offshored the positions to Malaysia.
Vice-president A/NZ, Jay Miley, confirmed 41 people have been let go including Solutions Group general manager, Stuart Ellis. Eighteen temporary staff have also been cut.
“There was no flat percentage cut, we were surgical about it,” Miley said. However, the distributor planned to bring on an additional 25 staff in customer service positions. “This [decision] was in the spirit of redeploying resources from areas reporting lower growth, and moving them into higher-growth areas. The total net reduction in total headcount will be 16.”
As part of the broader restructure of the company, Ingram’s HP and Microsoft teams have been consolidated into distinct units, reporting to Matt Sanderson.
“It’s a natural progression for us in terms of how we do business today – the real change has been centralising leadership,” Miley said. Ingram’s Solutions Group has also been renamed Enterprise Technology Group (ETG) and is now headed up by former NSW sales manager, David Lenz. Sales director, John Walters, will be responsible for sales and marketing.
“David and Matt will look after business management features and be responsible for our vendors and bottomline results – the customer experience will be centralised under John so we improve on that,” he said.
The realignment was about making Ingram easier to do business with, Miley said.
“It’s about ensuring our vendors and reseller partners have a more effective organisation at their disposal,” he said. Ingram Micro will also close its ACT and SA offices but retain five staff in Adelaide and two in Canberra to manage each state. Each will be supported virtually by increased teams in the distributor’s Melbourne and Sydney offices. The ACT branch shuts its doors on March 31. Adelaide will run as normal until April 30.
As a result, SA branch manager, Stewart Goodier, and ACT manager, Lynn Deutrom, will be made redundant. Several resellers said the changes were unlikely to have any significant impact on their business.
“I don’t see things being too different in Adelaide as a result… we can’t bleat too loudly about this. We still have our Diamond account manager and didn’t go to the office, so it doesn’t matter,” director of Adelaide-
based reseller ITPros, Gary Oliver, said. “I’m actually surprised they didn’t do this earlier because an office without a warehouse is irrelevant.”
More broadly, Oliver said the company experienced difficulties with ordering and Ingram’s stock levels, and was supportive of the distributor’s renewed efforts to focus on customer service levels with more headcount nationally.
Owner of Lincoln Computer Centre in Port Lincoln, Greg Williams, was sympathetic towards those who had lost jobs, but didn’t expect local customer service experience to be impacted.
“We order off the Web, and don’t mind where people are when we’re calling,” he said. “As long as we have access to advice and support, we won’t be directly affected. “This looks like a minimalist approach from Ingram – if this is all they are doing [to address the economic downturn], then it’s not too bad.”
Director of sales for Vectra, Roger Welch, also didn’t see any issues and said the security services provider more often dealt with Ingram’s Melbourne team or used TechLink to access information. He said Cellnet had made similar changes recently when it closed its office and warehouse in SA. Welch was surprised however, to hear of the ACT branch closure and pointed to government as a key growth area this year.
“As long as the staff are disciplined enough to work without the infrastructure – which is always a worry – and the level of service is unaffected, then it won’t matter,” he said. “It’s a sign of the times.”
Ingram's Walters said the staff cuts had been a diffi cult choice, but the best option to ensure customer service levels in the face of tougher market conditions.
“The options were to salami slice headcount throughout Australia, which would have been hard on Ingram Micro people, and reduced levels of service,” he said.
“So we decided to go deeper in a couple of areas and close the physical ACT and SA offi ces. By doing so, it allows Ingram to leverage operational costs around that and retain more headcount.”