Back in 2002, on the occasion of MicroScope's 20th anniversary, Computacenter CEO Mike Norris said: "I've got a great job that I still enjoy doing and get well paid for it...I look forward to being a valuable contributor to your 30th anniversary edition." Asked about life after Computacenter, he replied: "It's difficult to see myself doing much else."
Norris has been at Computacenter for a long long time. In fact, beyond our 30th anniversary issue next year, if he's still there in 2014, he'll be celebrating his 30th anniversary at the reseller giant and his 20th as chief executive. That's quite a spectacular run in this day and age.
Norris has always tended to have a singular focus on the business and he's always been a plain talker. So it was no surprise to hear him saying that, although Computacenter was interested in making acquisitions this year, "I am not going to try and change what it is that Computacenter does through acquisition, I've seen too many companies try to transform their business in that way fail over the years."
One of the reasons Computacenter is still where it is has been an unwillingness to diversify for the sake of diversification when others have been clamouring for it to do so. If the company makes a decision to get into another business area, it tends to be careful about doing so and more than likely to shy away from the 'easy' option of buying its way into that market.
Admittedly, the reseller has experienced problems on its foreign adventures in Europe over the years. One might argue, however, that this merely bolsters Norris' gut instinct opposition to trying to change what Computacenter does by acquisition although, in the case of Europe, buying a presence in France and Germany is probably the only option compared to trying to start from scratch.
In the meantime, it looks like more of the same for Computacenter - and for Norris.
This was first published in January 2011