25 May 2015
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Exclusive: Harri departs Synnex NZ, heads to vendor-land

By Heather Wright

Richard Harri has exited Synnex New Zealand, the distributor he helped set up nearly 10 years ago.

No new country manager is being appointed to fill his position. Instead, in announcing Harri’s departure, Kee Ong, Synnex New Zealand chief executive, noted that Johnson Ko has been promoted to the newly created role of sales and marketing manager.

Ko, who was previously product manager for WD, Asus, Netgear, Targus and Gigabyte, will report directly to Australia-based Ong.

Ong says he will also be spending ‘a lot’ of time in New Zealand over the next couple of months’ to assist the local team though he says his increased presence will largely be to ensure the smooth implementation of a new ERP system, due to be launched in August.

Harri’s departure was announced to staff on Friday, and he begins work with his new employer – a large PC brand distributed in New Zealand by Synnex – today.

“Richard has done a great job for us in putting together a high performance team that has delivered strong and consistent growth,” Ong says.

“We part amicably and wish Richard all the best in his new career working for a vendor partner.”

“I’m happy to see the reins taken by someone very capable,” Harri says of Ko’s appointment as sales and marketing manager.

“I’ve got some fantastic memories. The past 10 years have been the best in my career and the opportunity to start a distributor from scratch here has been a huge opportunity and I think we have done well.”

Harri will continue to work with Synnex as a customer.

Growth years

Harri was tapped to set up Synnex in New Zealand in 2005.

Since then the distributor has expanded from being a ‘PC component specialist’ to offering a full range of products and services from vendors including Lenovo, Asus, Acer, D-Link, Eaton, Google, Netgear, Trend Micro and Microsoft – for whom Synnex is the exclusive distributor into national retail of Surface product.

Under Harri’s watch, the company has become known for its experiential rewards campaigns for resellers.

The distributor now has more than 60 staff and earlier this year Harri told ChannelLife Synnex had seen a CAGR of 40% since its inception in New Zealand.

The company saw bumper revenue of $103 million for FY2013, a 55% increase on the previous year.

What lies ahead?

Harri’s departure, and the lack of an immediate country manager replacement, has some in the industry questioning the move.

One industry source noted that Dick Smith Electronics once had a New Zealand head office, before pulling management back to Australia. The retailer attempted several years later to regain its foothold in New Zealand with a second attempt at a local head, but again pulled back to Australia.

While Synnex will retain its staff on the ground in New Zealand, and has a significant warehousing operation here, the lack of country manager has some questioning the company’s seriousness about the local market.

The distributor, which is one of New Zealand’s largest distributors, is currently implementing its global ERP system in New Zealand.

Ong says the global ERP will ‘bring the Synnex group cumulative experience together to allow our New Zealand business to continue to scale and provide our customer partners with the excellent service they have come to expect from Synnex New Zealand’.

The new ERP will mean a change to the current New Zealand website and Ong says there will be considerable advantages which will wrap extra value around the customer experience.

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