Peter Metcalf, general manager of LanLink, talks to Philip Sim.
How did the company come into being?
The company we had been working for diversified and myself and my two partners, John Quinn and Ken Louis, decided we wanted to focus purely on networking. We focused on the high end of the market and we still do.
What services does LanLink offer?
Network consultancy and design services across the board, including hardware, software and cabling services. We also supply and deliver products from a variety of manufacturers, such as Nbase/Xyplex for whom we are also distributors. We represent Xylan and Memotec, which is a very interesting frame relay product that lets us integrate voice, video and data.
We also offer training services and facilities in conjunction with the manufacturers and we've also become something of a boutique carrier with wireless systems these days. We can install an 8Mbps wireless link including the equipment, configuration and full installation for less than $12,000.
Who are your core customers?
Our core customers have been in the government area, predominantly in state and local government both in Queensland and NSW. We've also done work for larger leading corporate customers; for example, we've done a fair amount of innovative systems with mining companies.
What technologies do you see being key to the future?
We're seeing a very heavy emphasis on voice and data integration. We also definitely see more opportunities in higher performance wireless systems. Down the track we also see a ubiquitous Internet and there are some very interesting opportunities in relation to the cable infrastructure that is being rolled out for cable television. Right now, we're seeing much greater demand for network design and also network and systems management.
What is your approach to partnering?
We're definitely looking for alliances and partnerships with companies that do not have offices or the capabilities that we have in Queensland. Vice versa, we have some large customers with offices in other states and once we have that partnership set up we can use them to provide the installation and support services our customers need in those regions. We're looking at reaching critical mass in terms of our role as a reseller and therefore we see mergers and acquisitions very much the way of the future.
What are your key strengths that differentiate you in the market?
We've very much had an emphasis on providing best-of-breed products and tailored solutions. We're very careful in our selection and recommendation of products both in terms of their functionality and also in terms of their serviceability. I think quality assurance is more important that it's ever been before. We've really beefed up in the support area and we're placing a lot of emphasis on being able to provide the best possible service we can.
How important are services to LanLink?
The services side of our business is increasing all the time, although it depends on a few factors. I think it will represent 50 per cent of our business within two or three years.
Where do you see significant opportunities?
Post Y2K I think there is going to be a big sigh of relief and I think the issues are going to be overcome quickly and that there will be a major move forward in spending, particularly in networking.
What threats or hurdles do you think you are going to have to overcome?
The biggest hurdle is staying on top of all the technology. The number of products we handle and are being forced to know about is on the increase at a phenomenal rate and keeping up with all the new technology and being able to present them to customers is the major hurdle. You can't do it all yourself and this is why mergers and acquisitions will be important because you need to team with people to expand that knowledge base. If you stay as you are, your niche will keep getting smaller and smaller.
Revenues: $5 million
Growth: 15-20 per cent