Richard Harri ready to bring down the wall
Synnex country manager talks about the plans for the business as the company gears up to celebrate its seventh anniversary
By Vera Alves, Auckland | Thursday, September 06 2012
Synnex has been in New Zealand for seven years and country manager Richard Harri says the “fantastic results” the company has just posted are a sign of even better things to come.
The company is getting ready to celebrate its seventh anniversary with a party to “bring down the wall” - and that is not a metaphor. Synnex will be expanding into the neighbouring building and tearing down a non-structural wall that divides the two facilities, thus doubling the size of its offices. “In recognition of our growth and realising our future potential, we’re expanding into the neighbouring building and bringing the wall down, doubling our footprint,” says Harri.
Harri says the good results come from “an early investment in infrastructure which meant the company realised the benefit in 2011 from investments made in 2010. Synnex will continue to grow revenue and profit through additional on-going investments in infrastructure to ensure the customer experience". He says the company has “excellent processes in place” to function as the warehouse or powerhouse to resellers, particularly those who don’t carry stock. “Our customers are very pleased with our turnaround times,” he adds.
Maintaining close relationships with resellers is key to the success of the distributor, Harri says. He maintains that the company is not interested in “spreading themselves too thin” but rather working with a specialised number of resellers that they can provide the best possible service to. Harri says he believes in knowing customers personally and understanding what makes them feel appreciated. “I always tell my staff that “we will not lose a customer over a tank of gas”. I once had a disagreement with a local petrol station and from that day I haven’t set foot in that store and they have lost the best part of 15 years of fill ups.”
“I feel as though Synnex is 'my baby' having started the company in NZ from day one,” says the country manager. “This gives me a great feeling of ownership although I only strictly manage the business.” Before joining the distributor, Harri held a number of different roles in the IT industry. “I completed a BCom at Auckland University with a double major in management and marketing. At university I sold car alarms, did some door-to-door work selling fire extinguishers and if they didn’t have a door bell I sold them a battery operated door bell, ran a paint store for Levene’s and then started at Tech Pacific as a buyer,” he recalls. He held several jobs at Tech Pacific and was promoted to product manager and account managemer and was then seconded to Australia to coordinate an ERP upgrade across 8 countries. Not long after that, he became national sales manager of the “old Ingram”.
“When the companies collided I moved to 3Com as country manager for six months then started Synnex NZ from day 1 in July 2005,” says Harri.
In his years in the industry, Harri says he has seen many changes and time is, once again, moving fast for IT.
“There are going to be less server sales with centralisation points in the cloud and less software business through the traditional routes to market as we have seen with the iPlatform,” he says. “The buzz now is 'Bring Your Own Device' but there are many challenges around data sovereignty, be that a firm’s accounting records in the cloud or a staff member having personal information on their on device they bought and brought, 'Desktop-as-a-Service' answers some questions but poses a whole lot more,” he adds.
For Synnex, now seven years old, the plan is to “continue [the] focus on getting orders out quickly”. “I am a firm believer that customers like to see reps not be talking to overseas call centres and we will be increasing our customer facing staff. This is part of what we call the Synnex Difference,” Harri adds.
Are you married?
Yes, I was married at the end of July. I am very lucky to have married a very beautiful and intelligent lady who has her PhD in Pharmacology and she is also an ex-gymnast! I feel like the guy in the Speight’s commercial who professes that it is a long road to finding the perfect woman!
What are you currently reading?
All of my spare time is at work, travelling, in the swimming pool. I enjoy a good movie. I am a big fan of Alex Jones who often gives you good insight into the news behind the news.
Who is your mentor? Or someone you admire professionally?
My late father. Dad passed away in 2001 at only 58 years of age. He had a great amount of enthusiasm and passion and was very talented.
When you were little, what did you think you would be when you grew up?
I was dead keen on travel and I knew that I wanted to have lots of money to be comfortable but also so I could help others if they needed helping. I am in a privileged position in a great country. I sponsor three children in Africa and Thailand and I firmly believe in providing assistance to those that are looking to improve themselves and are helping themselves along the way.
Do you have any favourite sports?
I swim 3km every morning. It takes just under an hour and gives me a load of time to think looking at the bottom of the swimming pool.
And your favourite website?
What's your drink of choice?
Tequilla and coke.
What do you think has been the single most important advance in technology?
Either the CPU or programming languages that have allowed continuous improvement to be realised in applications and to leverage the advances in the hardware.
If you weren't in technology, what would you be doing?
Law. A lot of communication, interesting cases, convincing debates, potential for high rewards.