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Kevin Murai assumes the presidency of Synnex

After sharing the CEO title with Bob Huang since April, with Huang's retirement Dec. 1, Murai will take over the leadership of the distributor

After eight months serving as co-CEO of Synnex with its president and founder, Bob Huang, the distributor announced that Kevin Murai will be assuming the president’s role and will the sole CEO, effective Dec. 1.

That’s the date that Huang will step back from day to day operations at the distributor and take on the role of chairman of the Synnex board of directors. Murai has also been named chairman of the executive committee.

Huang’s retirement and Murai’s appointment are the culmination of a succession plan put in place when Murai joined Synnex as co-CEO in April. At the time, Murai had been enjoying a brief retirement after stepping-down as president and COO of Ingram Micro in January, following a 20-year career with the rival distributor.

In an interview with CDN following yesterday’s announcement, Murai said he’s thrilled about how smoothly the eight-month transition process proceeded.

“It’s been going very well,” said Murai. “Bob Huang has been very supportive in helping me get to this point, both in terms of learning about the company in a lot more detail, but also leaving me alone to start developing my own relationships with people in the company and getting to know how the company works.”

Murai added that, during his time with Ingram Micro, he got to know Synnex and Huang and developed strong respect for Huang and what he accomplished building the business

“I’ve known Synenx as a competitor for many years and Bob Huang, and I have great respect for the fact he was able to build this company from the ground-up over 28 years, from the garage almost, to become a Fortune 500 company,” said Murai. “The fact that he’s trusting me with that business as he retires is a great honour, and was a big factor in my taking the position.”

Murai takes the helm of Synnex in a tightening market and a challenging economy, where customers are looking more critically at their IT spend and all players in the channel ecosystem are facing tightening margins, and he agreed there’s no question the economy is driving softness in the market.

“My view is we need to be very prudent in the way we manage our business and manage costs,” said Murai. “There are going to be opportunities but you’ve got to focus on costs and pick and chose the opportunities you think are best for you, and be successful in any opportunity you chose to adopt.”

From a customer perspective, Murai said in this economy businesses are likely to be looking for shorter windows of return on their investments, so it will be important for Synnex and its VAR partners to ensure they can clearly articulate the value of the solutions they’re selling.

“We’ve done a great job of managing our business and managing our costs, and as a result we’ve been more consistent in our ability to service our customers and in the relationships we have with our customers,” said Murai.