Jim Estill reveals why he is leaving Synnex Canada

Published: March 27th, 2009

Jim Estill admitted to CDN that it is never a good time to resign from a big company especially when you are CEO. However, the 30-year veteran of the distribution wars said he is still young enough to try a new challenge, which he described as “something big”.

That new challenge will not be at Research in Motion, where he is currently on the board of directors. Estill said that he plans to remain on that board and that the new business opportunity is in another industry. Estill, because of contractual obligations, could not reveal his new job.

I will not be competing with Synnex. Synnex (NYSE: SNX) is a great company that executes well and has good systems in place. I have nothing but respect for Kevin Murai (Synnex worldwide CEO) and I will miss the people in the industry, the press, the vendor community and the customers,” he said.

Another reason for his departure is that his replacement Mitchell Martin is more than ready and able to takeover and run the Canadian operation. “I believe that I have left Synnex is very capable hands with Mitch and Kevin Murai who know and understand the Canadian issues and both are very capable of growing the business,” Estill said.

Estill’s career in distribution is nothing short of stellar. Estill turned EMJ Data Systems, a Guelph, Ont.-based distributor into a $300 million value-added distributor during a time of tough competition in that field. In 1994, he helped to make EMJ a publicly traded company. In 2003, Estill purchased DaisyTek effectively doubling the size of EMJ with one stroke of his pen.

The following year Estill made another bold move by allowing EMJ to be acquired by Synnex Corp. of Fremont, Calif. Synnex had just acquired Merisel, which was a distant third in the distribution landscape in Canada, behind Ingram Micro Canada and Tech Data Canada.

The Synnex deal made Estill CDN’s Top Newsmaker for 2004 and also ensured that he would finally be able to compete head-to-head with Ingram and Tech Data.

”Synnex was a bigger company and allowed me to use my talents more. And, bigger is more fun,” he added.

Estill proved throughout his tenure that he was a market savvy executive. He signed companies such as Apple Computer and Acer when many other distributors wouldn’t. Estill also wanted to note that he’s had his fair share of failures such as Seattle Computers, Tecmar and Tall Grass to name a few.

He also wanted to point out that any successes are directly related to the employees at EMJ. “Most of my accomplishments are not my accomplishments, but my people’s accomplishments. And, they all came from hard work and being dedicated. That is how I became successful,” Estill said.

The new chapter of Estill’s career has nothing to do with his desire to become worldwide CEO of Synnex a job he wanted after <a href="http://www.itbusiness.ca/it/client/en/Home/News.asp?id=51722&bSearch=True" target="_blank"John Paget's departure. Estill said that Murai is better qualified for the position because he ran Ingram Micro’s worldwide operations. “If you took his resume and put it up against mine; I would pick him any day of the week,” Estill said of Murai.

Estill will officially leave Synnex at the end of May of this year. As for his new job, the only hint he gave CDN is that it will be a bigger company.

“Synnex was a major leap up for me. One of the things I pride myself on is being a life long learner and often to go that way you need to scale. That means getting bigger,” he said.