Zones CEO: One Year After Taking The Job, Company Growing And Changing


One year after taking the helm at Zones, CEO Murray Wright said he is excited about the growth and change he has been able to bring to the solution provider as the company positions itself to be a stronger player in the IT industry.

"I think it's been a pretty smooth transition to Zones and, personally, I've been enjoying it," Wright said. "In the past 12 months, we've accomplished quite a bit."

Wright joined the company last August, bringing with him a wealth of channel experience. He most recently served as president of Tech Data's Americas region, and also has held positions at Lenovo Canada and Ingram Micro Canada.

[RELATED: VAR Roundtable: 2015 Will Be A Good Year For Solution Providers]

Since he became CEO of the solution provider, which is No. 31 on CRN's SP500 list, Wright said the most significant shift has been working to better align the Auburn, Wash.-based company with the ever-evolving IT industry.

"There's lots of changes in the marketplace. The dynamics are changing, and they needed to be fine-tuned at Zones as well. The company has an entrepreneurial spirit that exists today, and we're continuing to grow the business aggressively," Wright said.

Wright said that he has pushed forward four main focus areas over the past year. First, Zones has worked to provide team members with more and better tools, including implementing a new ERP system, he said. Second, he said that Zones has been developing the internal processes.

"Since we've grown so quickly over the last several years and crashed through that billion-dollar mark, I think it's important to make sure we are challenging ourselves to be more responsive, faster, enabling our teams, empowering our customers ...There's been a tremendous amount of success," he said. "I think everyone should feel very good about those accomplishments at Zones."

Third, Wright said that Zones has focused on adding multiple layers to the organization to add different points of view, including adding head count to fill perceived gaps at the company, such as pricing and public relations. Finally, Wright said that Zones has focused on training and skill development for its existing talent.

"I think it's really important for us to have a unique and engaging corporate culture, and we're working on it. A lot of the things we're working on are a reflection of making sure we've got the right people in the right jobs and we create the culture for them to be successful to contribute to the growth rate of the company," Wright said.

In an exclusive interview with CRN at the time of his hire, Wright said that he planned to accelerate the push into services, and the CEO said that the company has seen a lot of growth in that area and it will continue to invest. He said that Zones also has been pushing aggressively and seen a lot of growth in advanced technology solutions areas, including mobility, software, security and more.

"All of that seems to be a very healthy growth for us," Wright said. "We're having some success around the Internet of Things and positioning ourselves around customers with fairly unique solutions and helping them solve problems."

However, Wright said that the growth the company has been seeing does not include a possible PCM takeover at this time, despite Chairman Firoz Lalji buying a 5.02 percent stake in the rival, which is No. 27 on CRN's 2014 SP500 list.

"The investment by Mr. Lalji has nothing to do with Zones," Wright said. "He is our chairman and shareholder ... Just so we're clear, Zones Inc. is separate from Mr. Lalji."

Going forward, Wright said that he expects Zones to continue expanding its global footprint, internal talent development and customer relationships. While he declined to give exact growth numbers as Zones is a private company, he said that the company is "ahead of where we thought we'd be at the beginning of the year."

"2015 will be a very exciting year for us," Wright said. "I would expect that this time next year we will be a lot better."

PUBLISHED AUG. 15, 2014