When Wes Pollock graduated from university he opened a baseball camp for kids dreaming of making the major leagues.Today he’s pitching as general manager of a small Concord, Ont., distributor of storage consumables hoping to make it in the IT big league.
His company, Team Tek Wholesale, will open the year by moving to a larger space from the tight offices its staff of seven have been squeezed into for the past four years.
That will help him achieve his goal of raising annual revenue from $20 million to near $50 million by 2010.
It’s a brave ambition for a boutique company which faces competition for its tapes and printer cartridges from Ingram Micro, Tech Data, Synnex as well as online distributors such as CDW.
But Pollock thinks he’s found a profitable niche, one which is attractive to resellers.
“There’s more to being successful in the industry than simply the products themselves,” he says. It’s “how you service the products, how you service the customer, maintaining the relationships.
“You’ll never speak to a voicemail in our organization during business hours. You’ll always get a live person. And ideally you’ll get a salesperson.
“Sometimes being smaller in stature makes you bigger in performance.”
One of his larger customers, Skydata Corp. of Mississauga, Ont., a storage system reseller, prefers to deal with it rather than broadline distributors.
“They’re very market savvy,” said Skydata president Howard Goldberg, advising on which tape manufacturer to deal with to get the best price, or which has had problems with a product.
“That sort of insight one doesn’t derive from a large commercial distributor,” said Goldberg.
Pollock has been in IT consumable sales for 13 years. After selling the baseball camp he began working for the predecessor of Tenex Data, which was bought by Azerty Canada. Then he was hired by Digital Storage to open its Canadian division as national sales manager.
Seven years later, in early 2002, it was absorbed by DaisyTek, an acquisition. At that point Pollock decided it was time for a change.
“There were no real issues” with the new owners, he says. “But as a person who’s gone through a couple of buyouts you have to be cognizant of what happens.
“I felt as a career perspective it was an opportunity to enhance one’s career, take on more of a challenge.”
So he and two other Digital Storage staffers — Brian Lock and Sandra Kestane — found local investors willing to back them in opening a competing business.
Eight months later, with revenues of $10 million, more money was needed and a group of U.S. investors, who had been either Digital Storage customers or suppliers, became majority owners.
Over time several more ex-Digital Storage staffers joined as DaisyTek ran into trouble and was bought by EMJ Data, now a division of Synnex Corp.
In the middle of 2004, Pollock opened an office in Orlando and a warehouse in Pennsylvania to serve the U.S. market. It accounts for one-quarter of Team Tek’s revenues.
In the future, he’d like to expand the company into servicing printers, as well as offering more printer and accessory products.
Pollock doesn’t want to grow too big too fast. He believes in slow steady growth — sort of like scratching out one run at a time.