IF THERE'S one word to describe Farley Bartholomeusz it would have to be "big". He's big in size (over 200lb, or around 92 kilos), he thinks big, and under his direction, his business is big and getting bigger.
When he was appointed to set up the PC-assembling and distributing arm of Packard Bell in Australia, he did so with a staff of four, including himself. That was in July 1993. Nine months later that staff had grown to nine. Today there are 84 employees working out of the head office and plant at Mascot, Sydney.
In that first year, turnover was $28 million. The next year it grew to $54 million.
"This year we will turn over $100 million," the Sri Lankan-born Bartholomeusz says confidently. "And although sales are currently concentrated in Australia, our markets will expand." The company also exports its PCs to New Zealand. But Bartholomeusz is now looking further afield for clients.
"We are looking at Asia," he openly declares. "We have expansion plans on the horizon," and one gets the impression that horizon is not all that far away.
Packard Bell Australia imports the PC componentry from the US and assembles the finished product in Sydney. The local company is currently turning out between 150Ð200 PCs a day.
"We have six or seven major accounts here, who in turn sell our machines through their stores strategically located around the country," Bartholomeusz told Australian Reseller News, "but we sell them more than just the machines."
Packard Bell Australia provides a flexibility of service which it claims can be tailor-made to provide for the requirements of any retailer. "We also provide comprehensive sales and marketing support, for both the retailer and end-user," Bartholomeusz says. "Once our machine is sold, we still accept complete responsibility for the continuing and successful operation of any of our units."
That's one direction in which Packard Bell Australia has achieved success over many of its competitors, and one of the main ways it gains and retains this upper hand is to employ more than 20 people manning a phone-in hotline, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
This has made Packard Bell Australia the first division to offer this level of customer service and support, lifting it to new heights, the company claims.
"We don't wait for our problems to come to us. We go looking for them. And many are solved over the phone," Bartholomeusz says.
It's Packard Bell's policy to make regular check-in calls to all its retail outlets to discuss any points on which they may need help. And with regular and ongoing training for the PBA staff, this service is readily provided at the top level, he said.
Apart from its domination in the SOHO sector, a commercial division of Packard Bell has recently been established under Bartholomeusz's supervision to cater for the exacting and expansive needs of corporate and government clients.
Packard Bell Australia
Tel: (02) 700 5000
Fax: (02) 317 2406