The next big thing

SMB reseller of the Year - Anittel

When it comes to his success, Anittel founder and CEO, Peter Kazacos, does not dwell on former glories. And why would he? The three year-old services company is successful in its own right, nabbing ARN’s SMB Reseller of the Year gong two years in a row.

“We are thrilled about the whole thing and, the fact that there were more judges, we are honoured that our peers voted for us,” he said. “We think it is very important recognition for our customers and our partners.”

Kazacos was the owner of Kaz Group and sold the business to Telstra in 2004 for a whopping $333 million, but stayed on-board to oversee the transition. Two years later, he departed and in 2007 established a new services company, Peter Kazacos Business Advantage (PKBA), now known as Anittel, to cater to the SMB and regional markets. A swathe of acquisitions followed and the company has spent the past year merging all those components into a single entity.

“A lot of heavy lifting was done as we spent the better part of 2008 and early 2009 doing the back-end consolidation to bring together all the back-end systems,” Kazacos said. “A lot has been done under the covers to get the engine room humming as one organisation. It was important for winning new customer engagements and to progress our managed services, which is a foundation platform of our services going forward.”

With the consolidation complete, Kazacos deemed it time to rebrand the company. Thus Anittel was born, a derivation of Australian, National IT and Telecommunications.

“PKBA was a good acronym, but we wanted a name that says we are a national business and we deal with IT communications, so we came up with the new name that reflects those aspects,” he said. “This is very important in the SMB space because there are a lot of players that focus on a specific region but not regional areas.

“Some of our smaller customers aspire to have multiple offices across different states. They can be comfortable that we can service them across whole environments and the Anittel name helps with that.”

To bolster its commitment to telecommunications, Anittel upskilled its Telstra capabilities to be able to offer direct dealership offerings to customers. This was done over a six-month period. It also provides development and installation services, systems integration, virtualisation, managed services, licensing and software and hardware asset management. Vendor partners include Microsoft, VMware, Citrix, Symantec, Cisco, HP, IBM and EMC.

Page Break

Impelled by the challenge of and passion for the SMB sector, Kazacos continues toiling for Anittel, despite having accumulated enough wealth to see himself through an early retirement.

“If you don’t need to work, you do things you enjoy. Here is the dilemma; what if you enjoy working?” he said, laughing. “I have a lot of friends in the industry and some of them work to be able to enjoy things outside of work, but I actually enjoy work more.

“The other thing is the change in the whole SMB and regional space. I call it the final frontier as it has yet to be conquered.”

Kazacos is also quick to dispel any parallels between Anittel and his former company.

“Kaz was a different ‘modus operandi’ since it was a main city operator and not regionally focused,” he said. “People ask me why I didn’t do another Kaz but why do something old when you can write a new book?”

With 150 employees under its wing across Australia, Anittel attributes the majority of its success to a superb group of staff. Kazacos was especially happy with George Fattouche and Donald Schofield, who were highly commended in their respective individual categories of Customer Service and Technical Excellence at the ARN IT Industry Awards 2009.

“We are quite proud of our staff as services is a big part of our business and it is provided by our employees,” Kazacos said. “We are friendly with customers, our suppliers and we have a good relationship with our competitors because there are times we need to team up.”

Kazacos remains tight-lipped about any future acquisition plans but conceded there are still geographic areas Anittel wants to extend to.

“We did spend a considerable amount of time digesting what we have acquired and we still need parts of Australia covered,” he said. “Stay tuned for more exciting events.”