IT Hall Of Fame: How Jim Dixon Put Customers First And Turned CompuCom Into A Services Giant

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Every so often, Jim Dixon looks up a list on his phone labeled "competitors."

On that list appear 22 major companies such as MicroAge and Businessland that Dixon competed against during his early years as CEO of Plano, Texas-based CompuCom. Every single one of those companies is out of business.

Except for CompuCom.

Under Dixon's leadership from 1988 to 1996 and again from 2004 to 2013, CompuCom evolved from selling PCs in retail stores into a $2.2 billion behemoth that derived more than half of its revenue and three-quarters of its gross margins from IT outsourcing and services.

Dixon is being honored Tuesday night at the XChange 2016 conference with an induction into the IT Hall of Fame, which was founded by CRN in 1997 and has been administered by CompTIA since 2010.

[Related: How CEO Jim Dixon Turned CompuCom Around From The Brink Of Disaster]

"Jim continued to evolve with the industry," said Robert Faletra, CEO of CRN parent The Channel Company, which hosts XChange. "He did it largely by focusing on what the customer's needs were and moving the business as the industry moved."

So why was Dixon able to transform CompuCom's business from PCs to network integration to recurring revenue services while so many of its peers withered away?

Chalk that up to a conservative cost structure, tight-knit client relationships that involved actual listening rather than just selling, and fiercely loyal employees, Dixon said.

"The customers tell you where to go," Dixon told CRN. "The industry and the competitors tell you where your costs ought to be."

Dixon rose up the ranks in IBM's sales group during his 14 years at Big Blue before leaving for a senior leadership role at a small company. The CEO of that small firm called Dixon in one day, accused him of not doing anything in his first two months on the job, and asked how Dixon planned to save the company money.

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