ARN: How did the company come into being?
Rosser: The company was formed in 1983 by Alex Rosser, my father, who had been working at IBM and decided to open his own company. His first attempt was to go into business selling modems. Most of the makers were third-party vendors. So we were a reseller, even in those days.
What are your company's key strengths?
Wide area networks, remote access, Internet access and TCP/IP. We have a very strong relationship with Toshiba, an Intel partner, which makes remote access servers. We are experiencing strong demand for remote access solutions, and VPN is just starting to grow. I can see VPNs taking off within the next 12 months.
What areas of the industry are you keeping a close watch on?
VPNs definitely. We've also got a watching brief on xDSL technologies. The problem is it's up to the ACCC [Australian Competition and Consumer Commission] to twist Telstra's arm to make [the technology] more available using copper wires. If it opens up, ISPs are going to want to put in ADSL - it will be another device that can do the job - and this will create opportunities.
What are Rosser Communications' key business strategies?
To focus on a niche and be good at it. To make sure we've got the skills and charge for it. Put the "V" in VAR. For example, we give away a lot of free support to our customers. We've got the skills in-house so we use them.
How do you build strong relationships with end-user customers?
We have end users on hardware maintenance contracts. We also use marketing techniques like newsletters and participate in tradeshows like Now '99 and N+I.
What do you consider the greatest threat to your company?
Outsourcing is a bit of a threat and direct selling off the Internet. If someone outsources their entire infrastructure to IBM GSA they don't need a niche player like us.
If they [outsourcing companies] do want to buy products from us, it hurts us because they don't want to pay margins.
How would you describe your management outlook?
At the moment it's pretty rosy. I'm a bit worried about Y2K - it's distorting the whole market. I'm concerned the issue might be creating a mini-boom that is going to crash. In the first quarter next year there might be a slump.
How are you preparing for the possibility of a slump?
We can run lean and hard, but if the slump doesn't hit we will be understaffed. We're trying to run hard with less resources.
What is your attitude to partnering?
We are cautious. We've got some loose relationships with other companies, but nothing concrete. I see merits in the theory, but in practice we haven't found the right partners.
Based: Pymble, Sydney
Turnover: $4 million per annum
Growth rate: 40 per cent per annum
Services: WANs, remote access, Internet connectivity