Sep 6 2012 By Andy Ndewport
Secret St Mirren bidder Dave Wares grew up supporting Dundee United during the golden era when Jim McLean was in charge at Tannadice.
But a former business partner of Wares insists the US-based ex-pat is the ideal man to take the Buddies back to the top.
Campbell Cromar was one of two men who helped Wares to launch a LCD-screen repair company in
1993 ... and then watched as their profits rocketed.
When the trio sold the company nine years later, they each trousered a share of £8million.
And Cromar insists 45-year-old Wares would be good for St Mirren if he succeeds with his £1.5million bid for the club.
Speaking exclusively to the Paisley Daily Express, Cromar said: “I have known Dave for a long, long time and I’m not surprised to see him getting involved in football.
“He was an ardent Dundee United supporter back in the 1980s and 1990s, when the club was very successful, and football was always his passion.
“We are still quite close and speak from time to time but he hasn’t mentioned anything about
St Mirren to me.
“However, I’m sure he would do well if this deal does come off.
“Everything Dave touches turns into a success and the fact that he is involved is good news for St Mirren and their supporters.”
Wares began his rise to business success by studying for an Honours degree in Laser Physics & Optoelectronics at the University of Strathclyde, in Glasgow.
From there, he went on to work at computer giants IBM and it was while based at their Greenock plant that he met fellow whizz-kids Cromar and George McBride.
In 1993, the trio set out on their own and launched Display Products Technology — with Wares as the driving force behind the project.
They hoped to cash in on the lucrative computer market, with particular focus on repairing PC monitors for up-and-coming firms based in Silicon Glen.
And the firm became a huge success, expanding from its East Kilbride HQ to bases in the US, including factories in Austin, Texas – which is Wares’ current base – and California.
DPT also had a presence in Ireland, Mexico and Taiwan.
At its peak, more than 700 people were employed by the firm worldwide.
In 2002, Wares, Cromar and McBride sold the company to 3i – Europe’s biggest publicly-traded private-equity firm – for £8million but kept hold of directorships and a 10 per cent stake in the business.
However, the relationship with the new owners turned sour and the founding bosses were ousted in a boardroom coup within a year of striking the deal.
That proved to be a disastrous move for the new bosses as business dried up.
After pumping in another £10million in a desperate bid to keep the company – renamed Incline Global Technology Services – afloat, 3i were forced to liquidate the firm in 2005, with losses totalling £25million.
That spectacular failure brought to an end the remarkable Scottish success story which Cromar insists was largely created by Wares.
“DPT was the fastest-growing Scottish business for four years in a row,” said Cromar.
“We built it up from scratch to become a £50million business, with no investment at all. We had 700 staff and bases around the world.
“It was Dave who headed that up. He knows what he is doing.
“He’s very good at making contacts and marketing. He’s an excellent networker.
“Basically, his track record is very good and I really respect the guy.”
After losing control of the business he helped to launch, Wares moved to the US, where he continues to work in the technology sector.
He is currently president of a company called CherryFusion, which repairs games consoles, iPods and other gadgets.
And he has also helped to patent a new environmentally-friendly BBQ charcoal.
Wares has kept in touch with interests back in his home country and is listed as a Business Development Representative of Green Oak Solutions — a software firm based at Inchinnan Business Park.
Wares’ bid for St Mirren is the latest twist in a long-running saga surrounding the Paisley club’s future.
Tomorrow will mark the third anniversary of the announcement that Saints chairman Stewart Gilmour was joining forces with fellow directors George Campbell, Allan Marshall, Bryan McAusland and Evelyn Purves to sell their combined 52 per cent stake.
It took until April 2010 for serious interest to emerge, with haulage firm boss Richard Atkinson lodging a fan-backed bid which aimed to use a Community Interest Company called 10000Hours to gain control of Saints.
His plan involved handing the supporters a say in how the club was run and, earlier this summer, it looked as though he had finally struck a deal.
However, having already seen off rival bidder and former director Ken McGeoch – who was booted off the Saints board after alleged links to shamed ex-Rangers’ owner Craig Whyte’s regime were revealed – Atkinson was forced to stall his attempts while the Scottish game went into crisis following the liquidation of the Ibrox club.
Back in May this year, Gilmour revealed he had received two fresh bids from foreign-based groups.
One of the interested parties was rumoured to be former Livingston owner Angelo Massone – although he denies this – and the other was understood to be an ex-pat Scot living in the States.
When the Express approached Gilmour last night to discuss the takeover bid led by Wares, he refused to make any comment, insisting that would be a breach of confidentiality.
Meanwhile, Wares refused to confirm his involvement in the takeover deal when the Express called him in the US.