No matter what business you’re in, you’re in the people business.
That’s one of Victor Tsai’s firmly held principles which he has put to good use in his role as National Sales and Marketing Manager for Dynamic Supplies.
It is among the lessons he learned from his early days in the technology industry; while busy with his studies at AUT, Tsai got his start working at IT wholesaler Morningstar. “I was fixing computers, doing a bit of sales support,” he recalls.
On graduation, Tsai stayed on, quickly becoming an account manager.
But this was the late 1990s and Tsai could sense opportunity in the market. “Together with some mates from school, we set up a retail operation called NFC Technology – don’t even ask what it stood for,” he laughs.
The shop was the first to have laptops on display; this was in the days when they were priced from $4000. This was another lasting lesson that Tsai has kept close: stock sells stock. Soon enough, NFC Technology had three outlets.
“We were doing a pretty good job, with a sharp focus on customer service and a custom build service for the gaming market, which in those days was a pretty big deal,” Tsai remembers.
Eventually selling his shares in the company, Tsai decided to try something altogether different: IT recruitment. “That was a definite change in pace, both challenging and rewarding. It involved a lot of cold calling, a lot of reading CVs and a lot of interviews to understand what employees were looking for and what employers need.”
It also provided an ideal opportunity to learn that persistence pays off – and that no matter how unpleasant, the cold call works, eventually. “It teaches you self confidence; successful salespeople know how to handle rejection,” Tsai notes.
When reading CVs became a bit much, he headed to Ingram Micro, managing HP Printer and consumables. “Printing, and consumables, is a different game to IT. Printers might be ‘just a printer’, but they are essential for all aspects of business.
There is a perception that this is a boring market, but it is one in which there is opportunity for that very reason,” says Tsai. “It’s the ugly cousin of the IT environment…but it is the rich ugly cousin!”he jokes.
With that positive approach, Tsai soon became senior business manager for all printing categories at Ingram; after 6 years and ready for another challenge, he took responsibility for setting up Dynamic Supplies in New Zealand.
“The company is a leader in the market in Australia and the challenge to set up here looked like fun,” he says.
The lessons Tsai learned over the years in retail, recruitment and at Ingram have all been put into action at Dynamic Supplies: stock sells stock, customer service is key, printing (and consumables) are necessary products, and it is a people business first.
“Starting from zero customers to where we are today has been an invigorating experience, growing in a competitive environment where other companies have been operating for over a decade,” says Tsai.
“We’ve got a focus on efficiency, selling only to resellers, and with a drop shipping service to ensure access to a full range and speedy delivery, overnight in most cases,” he says.
Outside office hours, Tsai plays basketball for fun and has a family, with a 4-year old son. “That takes a lot of time, but brings joy to life and that’s a major motivation for me now,” he says.
“We love to enjoy what New Zealand has to offer; I’m really glad my parents made the move here [from Taiwan in 1990]. I’ve no doubt about it – this is the best country in the world to live,” he concludes.