Matt Sanderson: Signing off following a three-year Ingram Micro turnaround

Matt Sanderson: Signing off following a three-year Ingram Micro turnaround

When Matt Sanderson returned to Australian shores in 2013, he faced an uphill battle to reposition Ingram Micro as one of the country's leading distributors.

In his first interview since returning to Australia in 2013, Matt Sanderson sat down with ARN to outline his vision for the distributor.

Facing an uphill battle following the much criticised, and publicised SAP fallout during 2011/12, Sanderson’s mandate was clear; “to become the distributor of choice” across the country.

Since steadying the ship, repairing the damage and growing again, Sanderson departs Australia following three years of revenue increases, returning to Europe to the role of Chief Country Executive UK and Ireland.

“It was a unique time [the SAP fallout], particularly over the past two years, that caused us to be more inwardly focused than we would have liked,” recalled Sanderson, when speaking to ARN in January 2013.

For Sanderson inherited a partner base unhappy with long call-wait times, delayed shipments and lost information following the company’s ill-fated upgrade from its Adonis system to SAP in early 2011.

With previous chief Jay Miley departing the role in favour of an American position, Sanderson told ARN at the time that the system upgrade changes “needed to happen” to ensure the distributor took a “long-term view” to move ahead.

Cited as an ‘Epic ERP Failure’ by ERP Software Blog, the troubled rollout was eventually rectified by Sanderson and his team, leading to global praise and industry recognition.

After watching revenue slump from $2.1 billion in 2010, to a low of $1.2 billion two years later, the distributor recently surpassed the $2 billion mark in Australia, recruiting new and old partners along the way.

“Initially, Ingram Micro had been our first choice for any brands they stocked, such as Cisco, IBM, EMC etc, but we went through a period where we had all manner of challenges and ultimately stopped ordering for quite some time,” CloudPlus CEO, Jules Rumsey, told ARN, following news of Sanderson's departure.

“While Ingram offered us a slightly better buy price than other distributors, that definitely didn’t offset the impact of upset partners and clients, time spent chasing late deliveries and addressing incorrect invoices etc.

“Once we heard from others that things had improved after Matt had engaged and started turning things around we gave them another shot. There were a few speed bumps for a while but now everything is running pretty smoothly again.”

When asked by ARN, Ethan Group, Account Director, Nick Stranks said Sanderson’s departure was a “big thing” for the Australian channel.

“Matt and David Lenz [then Ingram Micro General Manager of Enterprise Technology] were instrumental in fixing the communication issues that existed with Ingram under Jay [Miley] during his tenure,” he told ARN.

“They are both gone now, but the foundation has been laid and Ingram has been restored almost to what it was previously with huge improvements in certain key areas. Matt is leaving a solid business that is important to the success of channel.”

For ac3 Director Strategic Alliances & Commercial Sales, David Abouhaidar, Sanderson brought back a culture to Ingram Micro, helping the distributor recover both internally and externally during the post-SAP years.

“They were seriously lacking that post the terrible SAP integration,” he told ARN. “Matt is a professional who always had time for his clients. More importantly, he was always looking for ways to improve and valued constructive criticism.

“I wouldn't say that they are the easiest distributor to deal with but the team has every best intention at heart. The Australian industry will definitely miss him.”

Having recently joined the Ingram Micro partner base, HubOne CEO, Nick Beaugeard, told ARN that the distributor’s overriding appeal is through its product line, which encompasses over 130 vendor portfolios in Australia.

“In looking at the bigger picture, it’ll be interesting to see how all the changes will impact locally, given they are becoming part of a different business altogether,” added Beaugeard, referring to HNA Group’s, a Hainan-based Fortune Global 500 enterprise company, $US6 billion acquisition of the distributor.

According to one unnamed reseller, despite improvements under Sanderson, “fundamentally as a organisation, they still have a lot of things to fix."

“They have a great product line-up which means everybody does business with them,” the unnamed partner added. “But organisationally, they are not in the place they should be.”

Under Sanderson’s watch, Ingram Micro also acquired New Zealand-based distributor Connector Systems, bringing on 45 new vendors across both sides of Tasman.

As revealed by sister publication Reseller News in February, Connector Systems operates as a business unit within Ingram Micro’s Value Division.

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