Ingram Micro overhauls Canadian management structure

Ingram Micro Canada’s general manager and vice-president of marketing have been let go in a new round of restructuring at the world’s largest IT distributor that will see the company adopt a North American region business model.

Murray Wright, who was the chief executive at Ingram Canada for

four years, and Dave Walsh, who headed up marketing for more than five years, according to one industry source were blindsided by the decision.

The pair worked on Ingram Micro’s recently announced outsourcing strategy, where back office functions are being handled by Progeon, based in Bangalore, India.

Back in 2001, Kevin Murai, the current president and COO of Ingram, united U.S. and Canadian operations to maximize efficiencies and share best practices. Months later, Murai decided to promote Wright to the top job here because the company recognized key decision-making was taking too long from Ingram’s headquarters in Santa Ana, Calif.

Murai, who at one time ran the Canadian operation, was asked to comment on this story, but was unable to because he was running out for an off-site meeting.

According to Keith Bradley, president of Ingram Micro North America, part of the management change decision linked back to success of the initial U.S./Canadian integration. Bradley, who flew to Toronto to personally deliver the bad news to Wright and Walsh, said the 2001 move enabled the company to grow, save money on back office functions such as distribution and finance, and leverage best practices.

For example, Bradley cited how the U.S. operations adopted the Canadian retail business practice.Bradley admitted that the Canadian operation was executing well and was very profitable, but said it was time to take the next step.

“We had to enhance the move to a North American structure, and Martin Kalsbeek will be the full-time country manager. Murray Wright had two roles and he had to stretch himself. Now Martin is the country manager and we are bringing in Mark Snider as vice-president, sales. This is a further investment into Canada from a profit and loss perspective,” Bradley said.

According to an internal Ingram Micro memo that was leaked to CDN, Kalsbeek will have the title of vice-president, general manager. A 14-year veteran of Ingram Micro Canada, he will report to Bradley and be responsible for running the day-to-day business here, accountable for overall profit and loss. Snider will also be responsible for VAR, government and large account sales in Canada.

Other hires include Brian Wisera as vice-president of sales, North America, and Paul Bay as senior vice president of vendor management, North America. Bay is taking on additional responsibility for the Canadian vendor management team.

According to the internal memo Mike Gazdic will now report directly to Bay and will oversee the Canadian marketing team on an interim basis.

A new vice-president of marketing will be named to oversee North America marketing duties. This person, when hired, will report to Bradley.

Pat Capparelli, senior vice-president of U.S. sales, left Ingram Micro for personal reasons.

“What we’ve done here is different than a few years ago,”” said Bradley. “”Back then we tried to take both functions in the U.S. and Canada and make them single, so people in Canada could be buying for the U.S. What we’ve done is a leadership change at the top. Vendor marketing and sales are separate and there will be no blending at an operational level. This is a leadership alignment instead of blending two groups into one,” Bradley said.

Bradley said he valued the leadership both Wright and Walsh provided, but added that Ingram Micro required more experience to leverage the best practices and enhance the transition. Kalsbeek, with 14-years of service at Ingram Canada, had that experience, he said.

Bradley also said that this was his decision and that newly-named CEO Greg Spierkel had nothing to do with it.“It was my decision and my recommendation and I stand by it,” he said.

He added that the decision was not a easy one to make, but that he felt it was the right one for the medium and long term future of Ingram Micro.

Todd Irie, director of market segments for Ingram partner NexInnovations, said it was too early to tell how these leadership changes could affect its business.

Irie admitted that he does not have all the facts, but did say there is a lot pressure in the channel, especially with the PC business changing. “There are also global pressures, and Canada is five to eight per cent of the global number, so you have to anticipate these kinds of changes,” he said.

Dave Frederickson, vice-president of the solution partners organization at Hewlett-Packard Canada, said he was disappointed with the news. “HP Canada and myself personally had a good working relationship with Murray (Wright) and Dave (Walsh). We were recently involved in planning and workshopping to improve that relationship. But having said that we understand that Ingram Micro is more than two people.”

He added that HP Canada expects no material impact from this decision. Ingram Micro Canada is HP Canada largest distribution partner. Frederickson added that he has worked with Kalsbeek in the past when he was an account manager responsible for Ingram Micro. “I’m glad he is Canadian and I’m encouraged by that because he will understand the nuances between the U.S. and Canada,” he said.

As for Ingram Micro’s North American structure, Frederickson understands distributors and the channel face continued pressures to remain profitable. However, he added the industry still has to wait and see if the North American management move helps Ingram Micro lower its costs.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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