28/05/2009 - 00:00

Local Datacom branch drives the brand

28/05/2009 - 00:00

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NESTLED in unassuming office space amid the quiet business precinct of Oxford Close in West Leederville, Datacom Systems WA is doing big things.

Local Datacom branch drives the brand

NESTLED in unassuming office space amid the quiet business precinct of Oxford Close in West Leederville, Datacom Systems WA is doing big things.

With 30 years' experience between them, the company's founders Basil Lenzo, David Cameron and Peter Giannas grabbed an opportunity in the IT and support services sector in 2007 that few had foreseen.

"A couple of years ago we sat back and saw a change in the industry overall. I know the perception is that there are low barriers of entry in the industry, but you would be quite surprised," Mr Lenzo told WA Business News.

"Anyone can go and open up a computer shop, but what we wanted to focus on, what we saw as an opportunity in the marketplace was offering project services, really focus around infrastructure; so I sat down with two of my friends at the time, and said 'guys we can do this, the industry landscape is changing, but to do this we need a national brand, we need to start with a clean slate'.

"We needed someone to back us nationally from a branding perspective, but in an environment where we can do everything - we'll structure it, we'll have ownership in it, we need full management; we make all the decisions locally - so here we are."

Although the Datacom name was well known on the east coast in 2007, it was yet to enter the Perth lexicon.

"It was really important for us that it was a clean slate, with an organisation that was reputable from a national perspective, on the east coast, so we had a really good story to go to market with," Mr Lenzo said.

"What we were able to do was build that story around our people, our culture, the experience and our knowledge."

The Datacom story is unique in that the business has managed to build a profile and reputation in two years, whereas many businesses can take five or even 10 years to achieve the same degree of recognition.

Together, Messrs Lenzo, Cameron and Giannas own 48 per cent of the Datacom group, and while minor shareholders, they are nevertheless the driving force behind the business.

"We wanted to ensure we had equity in our success," Mr Lenzo said.

Datacom recruits staff who share the long-term vision and are keen to be part of the company's growth. As such, the company has included a growth incentive bonus that pays employees a percentage of profitability.

Employees are "hired hard and managed easy".

"We have worked hard to put the foundations and processes in place to make sure that things do happen properly, I mean if you don't get it right the first time, mistakes just cost you and cost you and cost you," Mr Giannas told WA Business News.

"We've got our quality assurance, we've got the foundations in place and I think that's one of our assets ... that's one of our big things, creating the right workplace culture.

"In the early days we were trying to hire people and they were like, 'Datacom? Who's Datacom?

"We had to really sell ourselves. Once we got them in and they saw what we did and the programs we had in place then it wasn't a problem, they believed in what we were doing and how we were going about doing it.

"But it was hard. Now the brand is out there and it just goes to show that we are doing stuff that people are beginning to talk about."

That stuff includes a raft of IT capabilities including hardware procurement, service desk support, desktop services, management and consulting services, and general IT support.

"We've really worked hard at ensuring clients understand that we can provide IT value to their business if we align it to their business objectives, whatever it may be - shareholder return, growth, corporate social responsibility," Mr Lenzo said.

"We ensure that we focus on the customer, the employees and the vendors; they are the three key pillars to our business.

"We made sure that everything we did embraced those three pillars ... and it hasn't all been roses. I mean I wish I could say that it has been, but you don't get that with rapid growth.

"One of the biggest things was that we aligned ourselves to the Datacom vision, and they aspire to be a business partner of choice, and our goal is to also be recognised as a partner of choice here in WA."

And the growth has been rapid, with turnover almost quadrupling since 2007-08, and projected to increase 10-fold by 2010-11

The number of staff has also increased from 12 in 2007 to 43 employees this year.

"I think there's always room to move, you can either be pessimistic or optimistic, and we choose to be optimistic," Mr Lenzo said.

"Despite the current climate, you can still see opportunities."

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