Toshiba Canada has chosen one of the last true veterans of the Compaq Canada’s former management team to lead the company’s Canadian operation.

Ralph Hyatt joined Toshiba of Canada Information Systems Group as general manager

this week. He reports directly to Mitsuhiro Kurihara, president and CEO of Toshiba of Canada Ltd. Hyatt replaces Steve Murray, who Hyatt said was let go in March.

“”I don’t know all the reasons behind it,”” he said. “”I don’t think that he had, necessarily, the background in the PC business you’d need to thrive.””

Though Compaq Canada went through a number of management changes in the last five years — including three presidents over the course of about two years — Hyatt was a mainstay. He handled several major roles in the company including channel development, consumer sales and product marketing. Most recently he served as vice-president of Compaq’s consumer access business group, an attempt to reorganize its product line around the way users access their data.

Hyatt said he had considered staying on after HP completed its merger with Compaq in May until the opportunity with Toshiba came up. He also said that while he did not stay very long under the new regime, there were signs the local team would not have Compaq Canada’s traditional degree of autonomy.

“”I certainly saw enough to tell me that the wiggle room that you would have was going to be significantly less than what we enjoyed at Compaq,”” he said. “”It was just going to be more things that were going to be dictated.””

Hyatt said he wants to see Toshiba expand beyond its success in the consumer market and go after enterprise accounts. “”They kind of chose not to compete in that corporate space when the pricing got more aggressive,”” he said. “”I think it’s an absolute requirement that we grow the base and win a few big customers, because it’s such a large part of the marketplace.””

Annie Potvin, senior product manager for Montreal-based Insight Canada, said Hyatt’s first order of business should be to improve its inventory situation and speed up the delivery of stock to the channel. Though Toshiba is still Insight’s No. 1 notebook vendor, Potvin said competitors are eating away at some of its share.

“”IBM has been able to take some of the slack, just because there hasn’t been any availability,”” she said. “”I’ve got a few customers that have been waiting since February. Some of them have been waiting for accessories since last year.

“”The past president came from Sony, and the mentality there was pretty much the same, which was (to be) very hard on inventory,”” she added. “”The problem that was happening with Toshiba was they weren’t accepting any forecasts. But now they’ve kind of transitioned and they’re really going in with forecasts. The stock is coming in slowly. We’re starting to see some change.””

Hyatt said he recognizes the challenges. “”That is kind of the first thing on everyone’s lips. The thing that I don’t know yet is the root cause,”” he said. “”I wouldn’t go so far as to say we’re fixing the supply chain, but kind of understanding the cause and understand how we can mitigate what the corporate issues are.””

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