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The checks and balances

Interview with Dynamic Supplies managing director, Scott McLennan

Dynamic Supplies managing director, Scott McLennan, kicked off his career in finance before making the switch to distribution and to ASX-listed player, Cellnet. Following a successful career as CFO, where he was on-hand to witness Cellnet’s growth and acquisitions strategy, McLennan joined Dynamic Supplies. He caught up with NADIA CAMERON to talk about expansion plans, market sentiment and his aspirations.

What was your first job?

My first job straight out of university was with Ernst and Young in the audit division. It was a graduate program and I worked in Sydney. I was auditing people like Qantas, HP and the like. It was a big job but really, lackey work. I did that for a couple of years before going into the corporate finance group.

What did you study at uni?

I studied accounting. The reason was that my best mate and I had no idea what to do when we left school. So we went to a careers night and met some guys from KPMG. They had just finished uni themselves, and we snuck off and had some beers with them. We thought that if they were that cool, it must be okay to work for an accounting firm.

Where did you go from there?

I went into Credit Suisse First Boston investment bank for five years. I was in Brisbane, and they wanted me to go back to Sydney, but I didn’t want to. So I joined Cellnet, who had been a client, and that’s how I go into the industry. From Cellnet, I moved over to Dynamic Supplies in May 2006.

What do you like about the IT industry?

I love that it doesn’t stay the same, the products are always changing, and everyone has to adapt. For those who can adapt, it gives them a competitive advantage. People who can’t adapt are obviously the losers. In saying that, it’s also a dislike as well, in that you start to feel comfortable and then something changes. IT seems to change a lot faster than other industries.

The other thing is pricing – it’s the hardest thing to deal with at the moment. As a distributor, it was great when prices were coming down, but people began to expect that. Now prices have been going up for nearly six months, and that’s hard for customers to accept, and then pass on those price rises to their customers.

What’s the biggest achievement of your career to date? It would have to be getting to the current position I have [as managing director of Dynamic Supplies]. It wasn’t something I expected, but something I accepted happily and gratefully. I came on as CFO effectively, and then Alex [Piccinini, founder] decided it was time to step back. He’d been working 14-hour days and his whole life was Dynamic. I think he realised he needed to let the staff grow and do something else. He built up a great team – we have a fantastic team of people, and many of the guys have been there more than 10 years. He was still managing things from a distance, then asked me to takeover and run things.

What’s your key focus for the next 12 months?

Our key focus, which is also a challenge, is that we want to grow our hardware business in the printer and copier space. We have always been, and will continue to be, a consumables distributor. But we feel we have the ability to change the landscape a little bit in the print area, and I think it’s a good opportunity for us. We may look to bring on another brand or two, but we don’t want to lose focus on the consumables side. We’re authorised with Lexmark, Kyocera and Samsung, but we sell every brand there is on the print side.

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What’s the next big thing?

For us, in print, I think it’s cost per copy. Everyone has talked about it, and it’s been around for a while, but nobody has nailed it. A few people are doing very well, and the broader print and copier dealers know they have to go that way.

Is there still a role for distribution with cost per copy?

There is, on a fulfilment basis. There are a lot of smaller print guys who can’t have direct relationships with vendors that we can work with. We have also invested in technology to do this, called PrintSolv, which we distribute to dealers. It’s independent of vendors and allows dealers to take it to their customers. Where we can pick up is the direct fulfilment that comes through, where we automatically send out consumables on the dealer’s behalf.

What do you do when you’re not at work?

I have four kids and my eldest is 13. Everyone says it – you become a taxi driver for your children. I’ve been holding back on buying an eight-seater, but I think I’m going to have to. But a love spending time with the kids. Work is long hours and time away from home, so when I am home I try and spend time with them. But of course, as they get older, they want to spend less time with you.

I love windsurfing and do a fair bit of that, as it keeps me sane. I’m a poor golfer. We played in the Officeworks charity golf day in Sydney recently…all of us could play, but not that well. But because of our combined handicaps, every time we took a shot, we went well and eventually came second.

Do you like gadgets?

I love gadgets, but I am becoming useless at them. When I was at Ernst and Young, I was just a sponge. Back then, there were virtually no computers and one or two terminals. When computers became mainstay, I got used to doing spreadsheets and everyone would come to me and ask how to do things. Now, I have to go to my guys and ask how to do things – I look at stuff they now do in spreadsheets and don’t know how it works.

What did you want to be when you were younger?

I don’t think I really knew what I wanted to be – I wasn’t one of those kids who wanted to a fireman, or sports star. At one point I wanted to be a truck driver – I think it was the fact that they sat in a truck and had no worries in the world.

What are your biggest professional and personal ambitions?

If I look at where Dynamic is at the moment, my ambition would be to help take us to the next level, without too much drama, and achieve what we want to achieve, which is to keep being the number one consumables distributor while also becoming the number one for hardware. My personal ambition is to drive around Australia without interruption.