Aspiring to live up to its name - and lead the pack

Procurri Corp global CEO Sean Murphy says: "Entrepreneurship is my passion."
Procurri Corp global CEO Sean Murphy says: "Entrepreneurship is my passion."PHOTO: THE BUSINESS TIMES

"Entrepreneurship is my passion," said Mr Sean Murphy, the global chief executive officer of Procurri Corp, a Singapore-listed provider of data centre equipment and maintenance services.

The economics graduate from Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia, began his career in technology sales in 1988. Ten years later, together with three partners, he launched Canvas Systems - a reseller of pre-owned enterprise computer systems - which was bought by Avnet in 2012. His successes include co-founding Optimus Solutions in 2001, which was sold to Softchoice Corporation in 2008.

The IT industry has always been dominated by a few big manufacturers, including IBM, Dell and HP, each with its own global network of resellers and vendors. So, a large corporation with, say, 50 offices worldwide would have to grapple with a plethora of suppliers.

But today's enterprises are more brand-agnostic, focusing on cost-effective and quality IT hardware.

CHANGE THE WORLD

Procurri, incorporated in 2013, aims to unlock opportunities in the industry by changing the way the world buys technology through a sharing platform. It specialises in supplying data centre equipment across major IT brands, and matching buy/sell opportunities between original equipment manufacturers (OEMs), resellers, hardware brokers and cloud companies. It also offers IT maintenance solutions independent of OEM service level agreements, and aids customers with refurbishment and disposal of their IT assets, including data destruction.

"This vision, which I've mulled over for more than two decades, has the capacity to shake up the IT world," Mr Murphy, 50, said.


MR SEAN MURPHY

"Procurri is not a short-term play - we're here for the long haul. "

His vision is shared by long-time friend and business partner Vesmond Wong, chairman and group CEO of IT incubator DeClout, which is listed on Singapore Exchange's Catalist board.

Procurri, with a market capitalisation of about $110 million, made its trading debut on SGX last July 20, and was the sole technology initial public offering on the mainboard last year. DeClout, its largest shareholder, has a 47.26 per cent stake.

The company's annual revenues grew to $122.8 million in 2015 from $28.4 million in 2013, representing a three-year compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) of 108 per cent. Net profit grew to $8.8 million from $2 million, reflecting a three-year CAGR of 112 per cent.

Its peers in the hardware and maintenance services segment include NYSE-listed Avnet, Ingram Micro and Arrow Electronics, as well as Beijing Trust & Far Technology, which trades on the Shenzhen Stock Exchange.

LEAD THE PACK

Procurri means "lead the pack" in Latin. "We're in a race to emerge as leader of the pack - the name is aspirational," Mr Murphy pointed out.

GIVING IT THE BEST SHOT

If we don't have the expertise, we won't take on the job. At the same time, we should always strive to be the best we can be.

MR SEAN MURPHY , global chief executive officer of Procurri Corp.

"We're neither a pure hardware nor services company - we're part of the disruptive force that comes with the cloud," he said.

So what differentiates it from its rivals? It's all about the customer.

Procurri aims to capture as many opportunities as possible within the US$30 billion (S$43 billion) industry. "We want to be the world leader in... hardware, maintenance and lifecycle services across North America, Europe and Asia. To do that, we need to embark on an aggressive acquisition strategy over the next 11/2 to two years."

While it has an excellent global sales force, it lacks large engineering capabilities in Europe and North America to deliver maintenance and lifecycle services.

Procurri's first post-IPO buy - last November - was EAF Supply Chain, a supplier of IT spare parts.

Once the group is "strategy-complete" across its key geographies, management will focus on organic growth and building scale.

"This is a scalable business, a business where the big boys win. As we get bigger, and the complexity of the jobs increases, our margins will continue to expand," he added.

DUCKS IN A ROW

The outlook is bright. The global hardware resale market is forecast to grow revenues to US$34.8 billion in 2020 - for a five-year CAGR of 16.9 per cent, according to data from Frost & Sullivan. All of Procurri's ducks are lined up. "Our vision is in place," Mr Murphy said. "From now until 2018, it's an execution story."

He added: "We have a strong core business, we're making some very talented plug-in acquisitions, and our game plan is fairly simple. The difficulty lies in managing our operations around the world."

His single biggest worry is integrating the team. "Our staff includes Americans, Europeans and Asians, and a wide range of cultures. The key is getting everyone to work together."

PAY IT FORWARD

Values he holds in high regard are encoded in the "Procurri Promise" - the company's core set of ideals.

One is integrity. "That word is used a lot, but it basically means doing the right thing," he said.

Innovation is another. Excellence and expertise are also qualities he focuses on. "The world does not need more people who are doing an OK job. If we don't have the expertise, we won't take on the job. At the same time, we should always strive to be the best we can be."

The father of four - three sons aged 12, 16 and 18, and a daughter, 20, said: "I want to create a company people are proud to work for - that's my way of paying it forward."

  • This is an edited excerpt from Singapore Exchange's Kopi-C: The Company Brew column that features C-level executives of firms listed on SGX. A longer version can be found on SGX's My Gateway website: www.sgx.com/mygateway.
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 09, 2017, with the headline 'Aspiring to live up to its name - and lead the pack'. Print Edition | Subscribe