MBE:Tell us about your education and background?
Kris: I am originally from Toronto, North York. At a young age, we moved to Stoney Creek, which is a suburb of Hamilton, so I went in high school there and then I went to McMaster University which is also in Hamilton. I took business & accounting courses and I am still continuing my education to this day.
MBE: What other segments you have worked besides Elavon.What other places & segments you have worked in?
Kris: I have worked for many years in different aspects of accounting and finance. I was an Accounts Receivable specialist, and through this I originally found InternetSecure. They hired me on a small accounting, contract, and during this period they were acquired by Elavon (NOVA at the time) and that's how I found this company. When I was young I did a lot of manual labour, I worked in construction for many years. I did roofing for Years, and also industrial manufacturing. I was taught from a young age the value of hard work.
MBE: You mentioned that you have been working for Elavon for about 10 years, can you tell us about it?
Kris: August 3rd, 2005 was my first day in this building so it will be 10 years in a few months from now. I started just on a work contract, but was offered a full time position before it expired, and I have just matured with the Company from there.
MBE: : So tell us a little bit more about what it’s like to work for an organization such as Elavon
Kris: I have a good understanding of the company, and I have a lot of internal relationships that I enjoy. When I started, I was a Relationship Manager. I held this position for several Years, starting before we had many MSPs. When we forged our original MSP relationships, I was there to help bring them on and start developing a brand for Elavon in Canada. I eventually moved through that and an opportunity came for me to explore the Channel Management role and then ultimately into the Sales Director, and have done well with the Company. Despite the titles I've held, I have also experienced many other aspects of this business through Elavon, which is a large and diverse organization. Remind me, have you been to our operations facility in Tennessee?
MBE: Yes, we have!
Kris: So you know first hand that we have a lot of excellent people at that location. It's a very well oiled machine, and I am lucky to have been given the opportunity to work with the great people there, and in our head office in Atlanta.
MBE: Kris, similar to some of the businesses under the MBE umbrella, Elavon is a company that built a Canadian brand from a large American history and presence. Considering that you were here almost from the beginning of Elavon's foray into Canada, can you describe what the immediate challenges were?
Kris: Likely the largest hurdle we faced in Canada was that we were not a known Canadian brand; you have mentioned some well regarded Canadian incumbent brands, which Canadian people and businesses recognize. They have been around for many years and people are familiar with them. Elavon is now a brand that the Canadian Customers know and trust, but in the beginning it was not always the case. We developed an offering and included all the great levels of service that made us well known in other Global regions. An excellent team was built from both proud and hardworking Canadians (like myself!) and also some fine folks based in our US facilities. Certainly brand recognition was a challenge for us in the beginning. We have not only overcome this, but have raised the bar in terms of what Customer Service should look like at every level of this industry.
MBE: Can you discuss Elavon's market share and what your plans are to continue growing in Canada?
Kris: People look at 'market share' in a large number of ways. Over the last decade or so, Elavon has built up a very noteworthy overall market share in Canada, and we continue to grow. It is important to always consider your distribution when you look at your Portfolio, and Elavon built itself in Canada on excellent 3rd party relationships with fine organizations such as the MBE. Elavon has several distribution channels, but our foundation is the MSP/ISO network we have built. It is a mature and seasoned portfolio of organizations like MBE that care about the Customer experience just as much as Elavon does. As long as we all continue to uphold the same values, there is no limit to how big we can grow in Canada and beyond.
MBE: I want you to comment on how Elavon is very transparent and very truthful with their Customers
Kris: Honestly, I would have to thank people like the fine staff at MBE for that; the MSP/ISO channel is an Elavons main distribution network in Canada. It is you that help to introduce Elavon to the Customers and are ultimately the 'face' of our Partnership. Elavon has a clear and defined billing and reporting system that presents information to our Customers in an easy to understand and transparent format.
MBE: Kris, I would like to hear from you what Elavon has in mind and what are they planning to do in the next 5 years steps are they going to take which we make people know more about Elavon.?
Kris: It's going to be a very interesting couple of years in this Industry, which has changed quite a bit in a relatively small period of time. With the introduction of Visa's Voluntary Code of Conduct, we have entered into an era of improved trust and reliability. I would like to see Elavon is continuing to grow through additional expansion of all distribution channels, especially this MSP/ISO one - it has been an honour so far to work with organizations like yours, to watch and assist in your growth. This publication you have developed is excellent, and will certainly aid you in achieving further brand awareness in the marketplace, and Elavon's in turn. Aside from brand awareness, relatable technologies and solutions are always either being introduced or enhanced, and it will be an Elavon's duty to ensure that we are fully capable. We have excellent Product and Solution Engineering teams that spend enormous amounts of time and energy into research and development of new products.
MBE: : Is there is any reason behind that Elavon is not moving faster in terms introducing new products?
Kris: If you look back at just the history between Elavon and MBE, for many years your organization did not utilize any of the direct products that Elavon offered. We allowed for you to develop your own point-of-sale solutions, which you then distributed and serviced on your own. A large portion of Elavon's business in Canada was built on the same format. So, while we constantly researched and developed our core product offering, we were not under great demand from our Canadian distribution channels to do new things in this regard. Flash forward several years to where we are now, and many of our Relationships that historically had their own products are asking Elavon to develop new ones, while they slow down or cease Product Development for themselves. Elavon of course listens to our Customers, and began work on a large number of new ideas. I am unfortunately limited in what I can discuss with you specifically, but I can say that Elavon will be introducing some very cool and useful technologies that you will both easily adopt, and find very applicable to your Canadian business. 2015 and beyond will show some very efficient development in point-of-sale technologies by Elavon that will help you to continue serving your Customer base, both new and existing, to the very best of your ability.
MBE: We would like to discuss Elavon's marketing efforts in Canada: we do not see much advertising, although we do like to show that Elavon is partnered with a strong brand like Costco. Can you explain why Elavon does not do more marketing in Canada?
Kris: Not to sound like a broken record, but again I will talk about the MSP partnerships we have, such as that with MBE. You have decided to develop this attractive publication, and it helps to ensure brand recognition expands for both of us. Elavon cannot develop a marketing plan that is specific for all of our similar relationships, which is why over the years we have always assisted you in creating your own. In many ways, it is just as important that your name is out there just as much as Elavon's, relating to my earlier point about how MBE is the face of Customer Service for your entire portfolio. Aside from that, Elavon is always present at any relatable trade show or Industry conference, where I always enjoy talking with people about Elavon, and how we have a strong brand built on partnerships such as with an MBE.
MBE: Do you think that anything will affect the industry for Elavon and organizations like yours in the near future?
Kris: Data security is a very hot topic right now, and will continue to grow as Customers become more educated. Elavon wants to be leading edge in ensuring that the Customer base is as secure as it possibly can be. A main concern will always be that the Customers are well Serviced. Trust with everyone Elavon does business with is paramount, and this will become more and more important to all of our Customers as our Industry evolves.
MBE: Kris, if you can comment on changes in technology and how they affect Customers?
Kris: Merchant Customers are busy people. They are running businesses and have their own Customer bases to worry about. Changes in technology need to ensure that security and convenience/ease of use are considerations of utmost priority. Your Customer needs to know that the solution they are using is not just capable, but that they can trust it is secure and backed by a powerful and knowledgeable organization.
MBE:Elavon has a best-in-class underwriting and approval process for the Customers that we refer to you. Can you provide any insight into this?
Kris: You've been to our operations facility, so you have seen first hand the number of people and depth of talent that exists in Elavon's various departments, not the least of which is Underwriting and Boarding. Elavon guarantees a 24 hour decision process that is backed by a depth of experience. We understand how important this is to your business, and we are constantly looking at how to evolve or improve - I think that we can do better than 24 hours, and would like to see that new processes become available to you as we develop them.
MBE:Can you please highlight Elavon's customer service? It is said to be a strong point of Elavon, which we find to be widely acknowledged.
Kris: We have great Customer Service because of how many layers it has - and this does not mean that Customers have many points of interaction, but that they have a wider number of resources available to them at any given time. What helps to make our Service great is what MBE will directly offer to the Customers as well as Elavon. Your organization also has an excellent Service record, and it is plain to see that you care about the well being of your Customers. Aside from Merchant Customer Service, we also have dedicated support networks for the MSP Channel, which is a unique and powerful tool in the Canadian industry.
MBE has been partnered with Elavon for many years. What do you think is the future of MBE with Elavon and what challenges we might face, positive and negative?
Kris: We’ve been doing business with an MBE and I have known Mansoor for many years. I have seen MBE grow: not just your portfolio with Elavon, but also into your new facility, and then even further from there with your beautiful training facility. An excellent advantage that MBE has is that you are a group of companies and involved in many industries that might cross-pollinate, but are not exactly related. This helps to ensure that when a certain market is down, you have other revenue sources to rely on and support your other businesses. I have also always been very appreciative of the fact that MBE has always wanted to know what Elavon is doing to help you grow and mature in this business. I have been very happy in the past to present your office with numerous awards for being among the top Partnerships that Elavon has in Canada. MBE started from humble beginnings, and it has been a treat to see you grow to the level that you are at now, and I look forward to seeing how you evolve further.
We know you are a big music buff, can you also tell us about any other hobbies you have?
Kris: I am a new, first-time father, and so most of my spare time is spent with my Son: which is a big learning experience and a delight every day. Aside from that, I love to cook and always wanted to be a chef. I almost pursued it officially, and out of school, I went as far as getting accepted into a prestigious culinary program. I did not proceed, after some careful consideration and looking at the experiences other friends of mine had in these industries, it was apparent that it is not just a career, but a lifestyle as well: chefs work long hours all week long, and as much as I am passionate about it, I also enjoy my free time! So, I kept it as a hobby only, and I practice every day. My family is lucky to have me, I do all the cooking!
MBE: Our last question is that tell us about your feelings about your experience in Canada with Elavon.
Kris: Well, these 10 years have gone by very quickly. When I started here, I had no previous Payments experience, and like many others out there I took this business for granted: most consumers don't have much regard for all the work that goes on behind the chip and pin they enter when they purchase something. It is a unique and rewarding experience to be part of an organization right after it entered Canada, watching it grow from very little into the major player we are today. And in line win that, it is equally rewarding to do so alongside such positive relationships such the MBE.
MBE:Kris if you can give a message to our readers of the magazine
Kris: Anybody that is reading this magazine now has a relationship with an excellent organization with a very bright and large future, and I can honestly say that you have chosen wisely.