Technical expertise is the path to success

Technical expertise is the path to success

Path Communications

Based: Kirribilli, Sydney

Founded: 1992

Growth rate: Approximately 50 per cent

Services: Backbone and WAN design and installation; Internet connectivity; radioMost respected competitors: NetStar, Com TechHow did the company come into being?

I was working for Ferntree and really broke out of the mainstream reseller arena when a lot of big dealers like HiSoft and ComputerLand went down the gurgler. A lot of people who were specialists broke out of those organisations and began consulting. Path started out as a consulting organisation but started selling kit as well and that's the mix we've ended up with. I saw the communications area as being a growing area so I focused on that.

What are your company's key strengths?

The person who does the design and sells the equipment also installs it and maintains it, so there is a continuity of representation from Path. A lot of clients feel very comfortable with that. We're really all consulting engineers and so we all walk the talk.

And because we're very focused on the mid-level corporate backbone area - up to 1000 nodes - we have services particularly targeted at those like 2-hour response, 24 by 7 support and so on.

What areas of the industry are you keeping a close watch on?

One of the things I see as a sunrise industry are Internet solutions, that is, the infrastructure required to run businesses more completely so that they are a fully integrated part of users' commerce systems.

Voice integration has been on the horizon for a long time and is now starting to take off. It's a very strong area from a consulting point of view, too, because not many of the clients know much about it and the vendors all have a different story to tell so we can add value by differentiating those stories for the client.

What are the key strategies for Path moving forward?

The larger resellers are expanding and taking over generic routing/switching environments, so we're continuing to move more into highly technical niches. Being a boutique service provider/reseller we are able to move more quickly and provide services in areas that other resellers take a while to get their head around.

What are Path's key challenges?

The key challenge will always be that some of the network market is becoming commoditised, so the margins are dwindling as the larger resellers try to capture more market share. That's why we're trying to look at the more technical areas. We really have to keep one step ahead of the big resellers and focus on a particular market.

How would you describe the management outlook?

We're very similar to an architect's office. I'm the chief architect and I've got very good architects working with me. We all build our skills collectively, we all share information and work collaboratively.

What's your attitude to partnering?

I see partnering as a good way for small specialised resellers to add value to the market in general. We partner with other resellers who can't afford or don't want to train up their own people in the area we specialise in. It works well because they know we're not going to try and sell any of the desktops and we know they're not going to try and sell the router.

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