Reseller ME meets up with Sajith Raj, GM, Logicom Distribution, to get a better insight into the man who has been with the company for the last 15 years and what lies ahead of him.
Logicom’s recently appointed General Manager—Sajith Raj— is every bit of the position he holds and more. Having climbed the ladder within the company over the last 15 years to reach where he is today, Raj is a great example of sincerity, passion and drive. And perhaps, even an inspiration to others. Organised to a tee and committed, each time he felt the need to move on, the company presented him with opportunities that was more challenging than the last. And with about two decades of experience in hand, that too in varied roles in different departments, Raj certainly seems to be the man for the job. He understands deeply what is expected from each department of the company and what the resellers too anticipate in terms of business.
Knowing that the heart of each business are the people, Raj takes pride in having been able to establish a good team. And also considers managing and mentoring employees as a learning experience. He further shares that being transparent with people and listening to them are two factors that have helped shape his career.
He says, “You could have the best of brands but if you don’t choose the right people to manage that brand or product then you could fail at the end of the day. Talent is the most important factor in a distribution business.”
And also, the most challenging one too. Finding talent and retaining them is a key issue today, for most players in the channel. And as many have moved away from this market, the remaining talent has become even more demanding. “This might be because the country itself is undergoing changes. Your expenses are really high. It’s always a difficult situation to balance both, your cost of operations and bringing in the right talent,” he explains.
If people are the heart of a distributing business, then the soul would be ensuring the right vendors are on board. Signing up a key vendor such as HP, is one of his greatest achievements, Raj says. He goes on to add that as a company they have always believed in tapping into all the opportunities present in one brand.
“There is a huge scope within brands itself. This works well because once you understand to work with the vendor, even if it was on different product lines, the overall strategy to manage remains the same. It becomes easier. We then become a distributor across their products,” he adds. And the recent award from HP only goes to prove further Logicom’s success with the brand.
Raj’s key responsibility in the new role is to grow the business in the Gulf region. Being the first ones to have direct presence in each country with small sales offices, he says one of his priorities is to start direct offices in Logicom subsidiaries in those countries. “We have begun with Oman in 2012 and now we will be starting with Kuwait and Qatar. This is because local distribution is what is going to grow in the next few years. And UAE is getting saturated in terms of opportunities or it is getting very crowded with competition. All the brands want somebody who can do the in-country job. That will be one of the key priorities for me.”
Added to this, he is also responsible for enhancing the company’s product portfolio, in terms of getting the complementary products. “Earlier, everyone use to have components or finished products but now we need to look at value and more solution-oriented products. It is not only the trend but perhaps a necessity today. If you look at a partner whom you want to work with, they usually want to offer a solution to the end user, they want to have the right products. And it is always preferred to have these products from a single source,” he explains further.
For example, Logicom sells PCs, servers and networking products. So in order to complement with the existing portfolio, a right product need to be chosen. A security product might be ideal, as the company already has some products in the security level but not a complete portfolio, or any other software, which enhances the value of the hardware. Adding on, he says, “We are expanding our product portfolio not by just adding another brand but adding the right product mix within the portfolio. We are enhancing services as a focus product too.”
To remain on the top, Raj says, one needs to constantly improve, no matter how large the company is. “Because you can never be perfect. The moment you feel you are perfect, then you are limiting your growth. As a company, we are constantly looking at the gaps and trying to address them. For example, a year ago, we found our existing warehouse to be too small and eventually moved into a new facility,’ he says. “We were using several third party logistics earlier and now we moved it to in-house operations, which sits under one umbrella in the new facility. Initially, we had some glitches because it’s a huge operation. One of the first things we did was to fix the time delays we had to get to the market. Now we can proudly say that we give 24 hours delivery.”
Under his regime, Raj wants to focus more on solution-based distribution, which is the next step of value add, he says. “What makes a difference to value is when you get into services and have both pre-sales and post sales. And after staging of the product is done, it is then taken to the reseller. Also as a next level, we would love to get into hosting services so that a reseller, who wants to offer some products and services or software as a service, can host it with us and typical services can be offered as a product to the customer.”
Although, this could be more applicable in mature markets and Raj admits it’s a challenge here to introduce something new but it’s one that “we are ready to take and we are trying to get there,” he concludes positively.