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Connector Systems: Sales are one off, relationships are key

29 Nov 13

R&R is key for Kevin Swainson. But we're not talking rest and relaxation.

Connector Systems general manager, security and telecommunications, talks to Heather Wright about the importance of relationships and respect in the November issue of The Channel magazine.

In 24 years in New Zealand IT, Swainson has seen plenty of people burn relationships for the sake of making their quarterly figures. It's the antithesis of his beliefs.

"You see new reps come in with very short term views, trying to make numbers for the quarter," he says. "Next quarter they know they'll be gone so it's do anything at any cost.

"It's such a small country, you just can't do that to partners. Sales are one off, relationships are much much bigger. I'd much rather walk away from a sale and keep a relationship.

"Ultimately I know, that unless I'm disappearing off overseas, then it's the same people you're dealing with.

"Someone might be at one company now but in six months or a year, they will probably be at another. And you want to be working with them there."

Early days

Born on a farm in Gloucester, UK, Swainson's family, including three brothers, moved to Kent's Maidstone when he was one. It was, he says, a great time.

His father was 'a very hard worker' often working 80 to 100 hours a week operating machinery at the paper mills 'and that sort of thing.'

"He was always of the belief that he would never leave anybody money, but he was all about making sure we were educated and could make our own way in life."

All four boys did apprenticeships, Swainson opting for electrical engineering and electronics and working at Marconi doing design work for military aircraft, including working on the heads up display in F16s.

"It was some pretty interesting stuff," he says.

"I was a high enough grade engineer that they were going to teach me to fly, but I finished my apprenticeship and got married a few months after that." He and his new wife decided to visit one of his brothers who had recently moved to New Zealand.

"We came here on holiday and have basically never been back since," he says, happily. "It was such a different lifestyle, such an outdoor versus indoor lifestyle."

Employed at Datamatic by 'old friend' Paul Johnston, who got Swainson residency here, he fixed and calibrated oscilloscopes - or as he describes them: "The things you see on TV with the nice blue lines going across the screen!"

When the role was moved to Wellington six months after he started, Swainson moved into a field engineer position then to post sale technical support for resellers nationwide and product management.

The industry was expanding rapidly and Swainson had been trying to expand his knowledge across all areas.

"I realised you just couldn't keep the depth and knowledge," says the man who has CCNA, Master CNE, MCSE and CCN among his certifications.

"I have a slight regret about the period from 1993 to 1997-98, in that I probably spent too much time focused on technology and not the family growing up. Before I knew it, I looked up and they were all heading off, not to primary school, but to intermediate."

To read about Swainson's 'Renaissance Years', check back to The Channel on Monday.

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