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Brent McCarty talks about the distributor's opportunities to grow

Ingram Micro: We’re perfectly positioned to grow our core business

PCR caught up with Ingram Micro’s new UK managing director Brent McCarty to find out what he’s got in store for the UK channel.

Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
I’ve been with Ingram Micro for seven years now. I started with the company in Canada in 2006 where I was director of sales for the VAR business.

It was kind of a turnaround situation where we improved operating income, grabbed a bigger chunk of the marketplace and had a lot of fun while we did that.

Ingram Micro has a programme to identify and develop people within the organisation that we feel can contribute at a higher level, and I was given the opportunity to join the first programme.

After that, I was relocated to Arizona where we had done an acquisition of a company there called DBL Distributing and after a good four-year run there, we had grown the business over 100 per cent, achieved the operating income and I was asked to come and lead the UK business.

So what perspectives will you be bringing to the EMEA channel?
You know, the first 90 days for me are really about learning the landscape in Europe and within the UK specifically. I have a different experience in terms of adjacencies and best practices so I want to be careful to be sure I understand the European business to determine what may or may not be applicable.

I do have some ideas and thoughts around different areas that we can focus on but as I’m learning, I’m finding that although our market share has grown, we have a lot of opportunity to grow our core business and I think we’re perfectly positioned to do that.

“We have a lot of opportunity to grow our core business and I think we’re perfectly positioned to do that.”

Brent McCarty, Ingram Micro

So to answer your question, I want to focus on our customers, our vendor partners and on our associates to really understand where we have opportunities for growth and then bring over some of the different perspectives that I’ve gained from working over in North America.

Your commitment to Ingram’s partners has won praise from colleagues. Do you have any early ideas for the EMEA partner network?
There’s two things I would say. Firstly I believe that relationships with our customers and vendors are really important.

The belief that people work with those who they like and respect is in my DNA, so I think it’s important to establish those relationships so our partners understand who we are as people and can trust us to go out and execute for them.

The other point is that we’re a great company and we have a lot to offer in the marketplace, but I think we’re a little guilty of being internally focused.

I want our partners to understand our value proposition and understand why we’re a great company. We’ve been a little conservative in doing that – it’s not just in the UK, it’s global, and I think that we can benefit from being more externally focused.

How are you planning to develop this external focus? Will you be going to your partners?
That’s my plan – I’d like to get out there in front of our customers and our vendors and get feedback from them on how to develop our go-to- market strategy depending on their needs.

That’s why I don’t want to put anything down in writing in terms of what I want to do because, quite frankly, I haven’t made up my mind until I hear what’s important to our partners.

What do you see as the primary route for growth in 2013?
I think that we can do a much better job in servicing our customers from an executional perspective. It doesn’t have to be a pricing game, it has to come down to making sure we’re delivering a great experience for our customers.

Our UK market share is less here in the UK versus the rest of the world, where in many cases we have the top market share position, so I think there’s lots of opportunity for growth beyond that.

Secondly, we’ve been making investments into our business. We’re currently focusing on the value that we can bring in to the more comprehensive categories, including cloud services, mobility, unified communications, and pro-AV. They’re our main areas of thrust in the forthcoming months and years. On the enterprise side we’re looking to add more value for our customers because we know it’s a total solutions sell as opposed to a transaction sell. That’s where we’re investing dollars.

We’re still going to drive our business through the volume model that we have but the value business will help us to grow our profitability – and enable our partners.

So what challenges are you looking forward to tackling?
You mean aside from learning to drive on the left hand side of the road?

Right now I’m just identifying what those challenges are. I’m a very optimistic person with a ‘glass half full’ mindset, so I think the opportunity of getting our name out there and gaining market share is foremost in my mind.

I’m a competitive guy and I want to do a good job bringing those additional value-added areas to market and help our partners realise that we’re not just a broadline distributor, we’re a solutions provider.

We have the benefit of the volume business, which enables us to offer very aggressive prices and leverage our scaled operations.

I’ve heard other distributors express some concerns about Ingram entering these areas, but I think customers are less concerned and, last I checked, if customers can get better value then that’s a good thing for the channel.

I’m looking forward to addressing that opportunity in the market. I want to get the message out there that we’re not just a volume player, we’re a value provider with great people looking to serve the channel.

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