Pinnacle is among South Africa’s leading ICT distribution companies. Built on a foundation of entrepreneurial spirit, the distributor offers its partners a broad range of world-class technology products, seamlessly delivered across an expansive footprint.
Pinnacle’s purpose is to provide world-class ICT products to its resellers, with superior technical expertise and exceptional delivery. It’s philosophy is simple: where expertise meets drive and energy, exceptional things happen.
Pinnacle has adopted the motto “delivering the exceptional” and strives to live up to this in all of its endeavours – service, products, knowledge, technology, experiences, commitment and teamwork.
The company employs 706 people, in eight locations in South Africa, Namibia and Botswana. It has a partner base of about 12 000 active resellers that ranges from the largest national and international IT companies to smaller niche market specialists.
Over the last few months the company has been changing and adapting itself to new market dynamics, and aims to tackle 2017 with renewed vigour. Tim Humphreys-Davies, a veteran of the group who recently took the reins as MD of Pinnacle, discusses where the company has come from and where it is going.
Pinnacle has seen a lot of changes in the last few months, notably in the top management, but also within the organisation. Please give us the five-minute history of where the company comes from and how it has changed to become the organisation it is today.
I think we saw some changes mainly at the beginning of the year: Pierre Spies took over as group CEO from January 2016, while Henry Ferreira moved to a group role, Louis Fourie retired and Arnold Fourie moved to chairman.
At Pinnacle we have had stability since January, with myself at the helm and my co-directors in place and stable since then.
From a product point of view we have had some major changes: we are seeing a lot more activity in the infrastructure and enterprise space with the acquisition of agencies such as Huawei , IBM system X and HPE.
So, yes, the business has changed. The client market is contracting and now makes up a significantly lower portion of our business than in years gone by.
Is this the final picture, or are there more changes to come?
I think distribution will always be fluid. In terms of management, I think we are there; in terms of product, no – we will continue to evolve and always embrace change.
Could you sketch the company’s product and service offerings?
We are a broad-based distribution house with 11 broad areas of product offering:
* Client devices – desktop, laptops and tablets;
* Consumer electronics;
* Peripherals – mice, keyboards and speakers;
* Printing and imaging;
* Infrastructure – servers, storage, cables and power;
* Networking – switches and routers;
* Point of sale;
* Software; and
* Life safety – surveillance and security.
In terms of services we offer assembly, imaging, pre- and post-sales support, board level repair, on-site warranties , project management and a comprehensive financial services offering.
What makes Pinnacle different to every other distributor in the market?
I think it is the range of product and the service and financial offerings. We also have a large footprint throughout the country, with these types of products and services throughout our infrastructure.
It’s a tough market out there: what are the biggest challenges that resellers are facing in 2017?
I think there are many chalenges. A moving rate of exchange is challenging for vendors, distributors and resellers alike. Contraction in spend is another. How to really monetise the cloud is another big one, as is lack of government spend. There are so many challenges but, as South Africans, we seem to find a way to still thrive and grow so I know we will overcome these and still manage to have a smile on our faces.
What are the big opportunities that you see for resellers in the new year?
I think infrastructure spend is there for the resellers to capitalise on. This can lead to annuity income – and the cloud plays a large role here in securing recurring revenue for the reseller base. I think life safety is massively underestimated and I think the reseller base can capitalise on this if they have the right skills.
How is Pinnacle helping to empower them overcome the challenges and seize the opportunities?
We are placing a lot of focus on training around infrastructure and life safety. We also try to encourage the reseller base to use the proof of concept centres in our two Gauteng offices. And we are working hard to make sure we have the right offering for them at all times.
You have been with Pinnacle for many years: what is your history with the company, leading up to your appointment as CEO?
I started as a stakeholder in the Cape Town office in 2002 after the demise of Siltek when I relocated to the Cape, and I was just responsible for the Cape at that time. In 2005, myself and my two partners at the time, Craig and Rudi, were appointed as national directors by Arnold Fourie. I became the regional MD in 2010 when Craig moved to start his own business. People often forget the impact that Craig and Rudi made to Pinnacle: Craig is probably the smartest man I have worked with in terms of product and, along with Arnold’s drive, he really helped to put Pinnacle on the map – I was a very happy passenger. In 2012 Arnold made me MD under Louis Fourie and then Henry Ferreira (who was an amazing mentor and really helped with Pinnacle’s credibility in the channel). When Henry moved to a group role in January 2016 I took up the reins from him. I have really been very lucky to gain insight and learn from Craig, Arnold, Louis and Henry – and now I report to Pierre, who has a wealth of knowledge that I can tap into.
On a personal level, what qualities do you bring to the position, and the company as a whole?
I think height is my major strength. No, seriously: I like to think I can build and drive a team. I have a high level of energy and a capacity for detail. I also enjoy the financial side and I really enjoy the marketing of the business.
Where would you like to see yourself, and Pinnacle, in five years’ time?
Hopefully still at the helm of a much bigger ship; with a larger presence in the enterprise space.
How do you like to spend your down time?
With my family – I have three little kids, including a pair of twins who talk to me at the same time. I also enjoy mountain biking, trail running with my crazy dog, hiking with my wife and crazy dog, and socialising with friends in the Cape.
What is your favourite book, show and movie?
Books – I just got into Deon Meyer in a huge way; probably blood safari is the best one so far.
Shows – I would love to say I am into them but I am not. I fell asleep in the last two I went to, but my wife enjoys them.
Movies – all sorts. I love left-of-centre movies, but I suppose I really enjoy the quirky off-beat English Mike Newell style like Four Weddings and a Funeral and Love Actually. I also enjoy intense spy movies such as the Jason Bourne series.