Synnex CEO Talks Networking Growth, Windows 8 Expectations

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Synnex posted its 100th profitable quarter Monday, thanks to strong SMB sales.

Following the fiscal second-quarter earnings call, CRN spoke with Synnex President and CEO Kevin Murai about the IT distributor's profitability streak and some of the new vendors that Synnex has recently added, most notably Huawei. Murai also discussed his views on Ultrabooks and ultra-thin PCs, as well as his expectations for Windows 8. Here are excerpts from that conversation.

Synnex recorded its 100th consecutive profitable quarter. Talk about what that means, especially in the competitive IT distribution business.

First, let's make sure credit is paid where credit is due. Out of the last 25 years, I've only been here for four of them. Going all the back to our founder Bob Huang, and the culture he instilled, the focus has always been on how to make money, and that starts with being the best at what do and making sure our customers come first. With that in mind, through good times and tough times, we've never lost sight of that objective.

[Related: SMB Drives Synnex Q2 As Profits Rise, Sales Fall]

Now that all sounds like motherhood and apple pie, of course, but you'd be amazed at how important that is, at least in my experience. I think some businesses lose their way as time goes on and as they get really big. So, not losing sight of the fundamentals to me is very important. In addition to that, I think the vision that Bob and others have had has really been focused more around the technology industry and how do we embrace change in the industry and create business models around that change that provide us an opportunity to add value and get paid for it. Ultimately, regardless of whether you're looking at new business opportunities on the distribution side like our CloudSolv platform or our services business, it's about never sitting still, never being comfortable in the position that we have and always aiming to do better. I think those are some of the core reasons we've been as profitable as we've been for 25 years.

You pointed out during the Q2 earnings call that the SMB market was strong for Synnex. What were some of the specific areas that drove growth for you last quarter?

The SMB market is, of course, as broad as the overall market, so the patterns we saw there matched the patterns we saw in the overall industry. So let me give you an example. Even though the overall printer market has been relatively soft over the past several quarters, in the SMB market, one of the areas that we're doing well in is in management platforms. It's still part of that printer category, but it's really a different way of managing print devices and actual printing and the consumables that go along with it in a much more value-add kind of way. So that's where we are able to contribute a platform to help our customers to create incremental business in a market that is otherwise soft. Other areas of strength such as storage have followed what we expected in terms of the overall industry.

Are you seeing much interest in Ultrabooks?

There's tons of interest around the Ultrabook. Right now it's a bit too early to tell because it's only been very recently that some of these products have actually been launched. And, there are still a lot of products that have been announced but haven't yet launched. But because of the size and form factor of the Ultrabook and ultra-thin notebooks in general, we expect that they're going to generate a lot of interest both on the consumer side of the business and the commercial side of the business.

NEXT: Huawei, Windows 8, And More

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