The recent sale by loss-making modem maker NetComm of its manufacturing operations to HarTec has thrown the spotlight on the operations of this publicly listed company.
HarTec will now incorporate NetComm's manufacturing operations into its own production group, which also makes surface-mount products for companies like Apple and Digital. Other divisions of the company handle components from leaders including Intel, National Semiconductor and Fairchild.
But of more interest to resellers is HarTec's recently revamped Networking Products Division (NPD), responsible for about 15 per cent of total annual sales of around $200 million.
Under a new managing director, former SMC chief Andrew Mitchell, NPD specialises in passive networking products, and claims to be the largest distributor of such products in Australia.
"All the glamour in networking hardware is in the servers and switches," says Mitchell. "Everyone forgets about the cables connecting them together."
Indeed as more users move to Fast Ethernet and begin planning for gigabit speeds on LANs, most of them will have to replace their legacy first generation cabling for Category 5 cabling or better.
"We have seen Category 5 cabling that did not have Category 5 connectors - making it useless for Fast Ethernet," said Mitchell. "We have an ongoing education program for installers and network designers to make sure this does not happen, and we're keen to grow the skill sets of data cabling specialists and the larger systems integrator that gets involved in network design," said Mitchell.
Mitchell said NPD is planning the introduction of a 7am to 7pm service facility for resellers from Monday to Friday and 8am to 4pm on Saturdays.
While new cable installations and the replacement of older systems with Category 5 in commercial organisations are the foci of NPD, Mitchell has his eyes on another potentially larger market.
"We have already seen a new housing development in Victoria where homes were pre-cabled and an eight-port hub installed," said Mitchell. Given some of the wilder predictions about multimedia applications in the home, this could be a bonanza for cabling companies.
Hartec has also moved to strengthen its relationship with networking vendor 3Com, by growing its ranks of 3Com engineers and expanding the number of products it offers.
The company currently distributes 3Com products to resellers across Australia. The new arrangement will see an increased emphasis on extended warranties, service and support from HarTec, which doubles the warranty of many of the 3Com products that it carries.
In addition to this relationship HarTec's NPD is also in acquisition mode - adding other companies and products to its portfolio such as data communications distribution company ACNE.
HarTec Networking Products Division
Tel (02) 9898 0133 Fax (02) 9638 2020