Hugh Evans, managing director of Agate Technology, believes Agate is ready to challenge Australia's top distributors and "is well poised to move up to around fifth position" on Australian Reseller News' Top 100 list of distributors.
Evans says it is time someone challenged the top companies' near monopoly on some vendors' products.
Agate plans to carefully expand its product base with products peripheral to its current storage emphasis. However, the company has no desire to compete with its dealers, but will offer products which complement its existing range. Evans believes he already has the market base for these new products and that an expansion of the range of products should move Agate significantly up the list.
The road ahead
A challenge faced by Agate with this growth is the company's name. Evans concedes the name Agate is "virtually synonymous" with Seagate -- so much so that it becomes a misconception that Agate only distributes Seagate products. Evans said Agate has finally broken the barrier of being seen as a Seagate house and, as the company grows, Agate is being seen by dealers as offering a more diverse range of products.
Agate Technology currently distributes Iomega products; IBM hard disk drives; Seagate hard disk drives and tape drives; all Seagate software products (from both the network storage group and the information management group); Adaptec storage products; and Kingston storage and networking products.
Evans advises resellers to keep an eye on the company for the arrival in the near future of a range of more sophisticated storage products that focus on high-end storage solutions.
Getting so much better all the time
Ultra SCSI II and Fibre Channel products from companies such as Seagate and Gadzoox are a response to the huge growth anticipated in the storage market. Agate intends to make available to resellers "whole Fibre Channel and Ultra SCSI II solutions" so that all products will be available from one distributor. Specialised training courses will be made available for these products on a one to one basis and interested resellers should contact Agate sales on (02) 9870 3600.
Looking at sales
To maintain and increase its market base, Agate is very conscious of providing a fast and efficient service to resellers.
All phone calls are directed straight to the sales department (company research has revealed that more than 70 per cent of calls are sales related).
Any non-sales calls are redirected by the sales department.
The company is also investing more time and effort in its Web page and making more resources available on the Web. Agate will soon have CDs containing detailed information on each of the products available from Agate. Evans sees these CDs as a viable alternative to hard copy product manuals.
In the area of technical support, Agate will be installing a 1900 number for user-pays end-user support. There is a charge for this support because, firstly, the line will be provided as a solution for anyone who buys anywhere through the channel, especially from those sources where no support is given. Secondly, Agate plans to provide five or six technical support engineers to receive these calls. Dealer technical support, available on a different number, is free of charge.
From mid-April resellers will be able to take advantage of Agate's new software at no cost. The software, known as Radar Technology ("you send something out and you get something back"), allows resellers to easily access information from Agate, for example online pricing and order documents. The information available in this way is supplementary to that available on the Web site and is more up to date. Unlike the Web site, it is available only to customers. The Agate sales department sums the software up as "making things easy for the dealer to deal with us". The company claims that by using this software, resellers can receive information within 10 minutes, 24 hours a day.
Of further assistance to resellers will be Agate's roadshows, to be held this week. Representatives from Agate's vendor companies will be conducting three-hour afternoon sessions, free of charge to resellers.
Keynote speakers will include Fred King, channels manager at Seagate Software; Greg Wyman, regional director of Seagate Software's network storage management group; Paul Angell, senior sales representative from Seagate Technology's tape drives and hard disk drives division; a speaker from Adaptec to be advised; Mike Sager, general manager of Kingston Networking; and Brad Monsborough, marketing manager at Iomega.
Agate believes that by presenting a range of vendors' presentations in one afternoon session, the most important issues will be concentrated and resellers will maximise their time spent at the session.
The Roadshow began in Sydney on April 20 at the ANA Hotel; moved to Melbourne on April 21 at the Centra Hotel; and will follow up in Perth on April 23 at the Hyatt.
It is proposed that roadshows will be held in Adelaide and Brisbane at a later date.
Interested resellers should phone Kim Zammit at Agate on (02) 9870 3600 to confirm seating.