Samtack founder reflects on 20 years in Canadian market

Markham, Ont. – Distributor Samtack celebrated its 20th year in business yesterday, in addition to unveiling its new 93,000 square foot home in the area.

The company was founded in 1989 by Sam Chiu, who began doing business in his garage like many other IT giants. A year later, the company was doing so well that its business expanded to the U.S. market. Now, 20 years later, the distributor is still going strong with a channel community totaling over 5,000 partners and more than 100 employees. Within its 20 years in business, Samtack has seen so much incremental growth that it has moved locations four times.

Among Samtack’s offerings are personal computers, peripherals, components, multimedia solutions and consumer electronics. The distributor has a number of strategic vendor alliances with companies such as LG Electronics, Seagate and Nvidia, to name a few.

CDN had the chance to speak with Sam Chiu and Samtack’s president, Royson Ng about the company, its plans for Canada and solution opportunities for partners.

CDN: How did you start Samtack?

Sam Chiu: Samtack started in 1989. I started it, at the time, we were trying to resell graphics cards and things like that to retailers. I started in my garage and one year after I moved to a small location, also in the Markham area and just kept on growing. We brought in good staff and that’s how we started. In 1990 we expanded to the USA. We set up an office in New Jersey and manufacturing facilities in Hong Kong two years after, then we expanded to Europe and the Asia Pacific regions.

CDN: What’s your secret to success?

S.C.: The secret of success is to just go after the market, serve the customer and bring the best product to the customer and service them as best as we could and work hard at it.

CDN: What’s one of your biggest accomplishments at Samtack?

S.C.: The biggest accomplishment is being able to get together a team of dedicated staff to work together and independently. We’re a global organization so we can’t be in one particular location all the time, so it depends on the staff’s integrity, loyalty and staff initiative. Our staff keeps working at it everyday.

CDN: When you first started Samtack, did you have a vision of what it would look like?

S.C.: I wouldn’t say it’s a vision because a business is an evolving thing and in this PC industry, it changes literally every month, but our idea’s really to keep working hard at it and to run as fast as we can and take care of our customers.

CDN: Tell me about your new facility.

Royson Ng: We moved from 36,000 square feet from 22 inch feet high, to now 30 feet high and 93,000 square feet. We’ve transformed our business from PC-based, just building systems to upgrade peripherals and so on.

CDN: What has Samtack’s Canadian business been like over the past year?

R.N.: We’ve had a fantastic year. We grew our business, where the market’s shrinking. We have two types of business with mass merchandisers, which includes Wal-Mart, Best Buy, Staples and so on. The other business is with our over 5000 resellers that we have which includes mom and pop stores, VARs and today our business model is about 40 per cent is mass merchandiser and 60 per cent is still our VARs and computer resellers. We’ve over $250 million dollars in revenue every year.

CDN: What’s Samtack’s vendor and partner strategy?

S.C.: At Samtack Canada, we have a group of major retailers that we work with. Best Buy, Future Shop, Walmart, Staples and Canadian Tire.

Working with them is not an easy task. Their levels of expectations are very high so we have to keep serving them and taking care of them properly and adding value to the products we offer them. You can’t relax because you have to service them everyday. At this moment we’re staying level with our network of about 5,000 partners and we’re being more selective with our channel partners. We’re not going after the quantity, but more of the quality of our customers.

CDN: What’s your message to channel partners as they work in today’s economy?

S.C.: Every problem is an opportunity. If you focus and keep working at it, there underlies a big opportunity for everybody. We don’t see a problem as a problem, we see it as an opportunity hidden behind the problem.

R.N.: Grow with Samtack. Samtack is a destination for you as a distributor and we carry all range of products and with the power of buying we have, we’re able to pass on the saving costs. I want to thank all the communities that have helped us and what we are today is all based on your (partners’) help and support over the years.

CDN: What opportunities are out there for partners?

S.C.: There are a few areas that the technology is still growing by leaps and bounds. Graphic cards, the technology is improving everyday. Storage products is another good area. The technology is also growing and you always have something faster and better. These are good areas for channel partners and everyone in the IT industry.

R.N.: We’re very strong in storage and external storage. It’s been growing for the past couple years because more information needs to be stored and backed up.

CDN: What are your plans for Samtack in the next two years or so?

S.C.: The goal for Samtack Canada is not a two year horizon. We’re talking about the next 20 years. So for the next 20 years, what will we do? We’ll continue to cultivate a strong team of staff and put an honest effort everyday to go out and serve our customers and do the job and do the best we can. That’s really what we’re here to do.

R.N.: We’re embarking on a lot of power saving products like LED lighting, cables, sensor-motion lighting, etc.

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Maxine Cheung
Maxine Cheung
Staff Writer, Computer Dealer News

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