Geoffrey Lewis, WYNIT: Serial EntrepreneurJanuary 10, 2013
Geoffrey Lewis has a simple philosophy that has served him well during a long career in the commercial and consumer electronics industry: “I go to bed dreaming of what I want to do, wake up believing I have the capabilities to get it done, and then spend the day getting it done.”
As the founder of WYNIT, Lewis and his team recently celebrated the distributor’s 25th year, an anniversary all business owners dream of but a particularly important milestone in the tumultuous CE industry. The years since the recession have claimed a handful of CE distributors, but WYNIT has managed to survive and thrive by tapping into new product and solution trends, and adjusting its service offerings to better address the changes its customers face.
The company’s line card serves as a timeline of the major digital trends that have driven commercial and consumer markets during the last 25 years: digital photography and imaging; video editing; computer peripherals and accessories, with a big focus on storage; navigation; and security and surveillance. Lewis has also steered the distributor into niche areas that represent more stable markets that are less impacted by digital trends: housewares, wide-format printing, and leisure and adventure.
Today, the North Syracuse, N.Y.-based distributor sells thousands of SKUs from hundreds of manufacturers. “Our relationships with suppliers are very strategic,” Lewis said. “The more strategic they are, the more successful they are.”
On the services side, one of the biggest challenges WYNIT has had to tackle has been the transition during the last four years from “pallet in, pallet out,” to a greater focus on customer fulfillment, which has been fueled by online sales.It essentially entails shipping many more smaller, inexpensive items one at a time to thousands of customers. “That’s a game changer that’s important to our survival today,” Lewis said. “You have to do it to survive.”
If you look at Lewis’s past, it’s probably no surprise that he ended up starting a distribution company. He got the sales bug while attending Rochester Institute of Technology in the early ‘70s. “I never graduated,” Lewis said. “I was too busy being entrepreneurial. I’d go to school when I had time, which wasn’t a lot.”