Harry Hart, CEO Hartco

After four months of uncertainty following the departure of its president and CEO, management at Hartco Corp. stablized when chairman Harry Hart appointed a new hand in May as day-to-day leader of the Montreal-based conglomerate.

Patrick Waid, an IT consultant and former Compaq Canada vice-president

of sales and of operations who had turned down offers to join Hartco before, finally had an offer he couldn’t refuse.

However, Hart retained the post of CEO, which he’d given to Anthony Molluso in 2001.

Molluso and Hartco remain locked in a wrongful dismissal suit, and Hart refused to be drawn in any way into talking for this article about that incident or the effect it has had on the company, which includes franchise retailers Compucentre, CompuSmart and Telephone Booth, as well as solution providers Metafore Corp., MicroAge and Northwest Digital.

Unfortunately, the managment trouble combined with the economy is giving Waid a challenging time. In June, just after his appointment, publicly traded Hartco reported first quarter earnings of $1.185 million compared to just over $3 million for the same period in 2002.

For the quarter ending Aug. 2, the company earned $1.157 million, compared to $2.3 million for the same quarter in 2002. For the first six months of the year Hartco earned $2.342 million compared to $5.448 million in the same period a year earlier.

The company blamed weak demand in the corporate and retail computer markets, which resulted in second quarter revenues of $130.5 million compared to $151.0 million the same period in 2002.

In his brief time on the job Waid has managed to keep the company in the black. But the pressure’s still on to impress the boss.

“”Hartco needs to excel at recognizing and anticipating customers’ most fundamental needs and wants in information technology,”” Waid said in an interview as he took over his new post, “”and then develop a business model that will allow the company to differentiate itself for its competitors through a compelling value proposition.””

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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