Data communication distributor SnapperNet celebrates its tenth anniversary this month, after a promising first quarter suggests a return to the company’s pre-recession steady rate of growth.
The distributor, which was spun out of the Ultra Computer Company in 2001, has grown from 30 to 40 customers — all existing Ultra partners — to as much as 200 regular resellers in 2011.
The Auckland-based company enjoyed several consecutive years of 10 percent annual sales growth before the economy tanked in 2009. But SnapperNet, which will celebrate its first decade in business with an Auckland harbour cruise for channel partners on April 1, weathered the worst of the recession.
“This is possibly to do with the diversity of our reseller base,” says Richard Paul, SnapperNet’s director. “While some of them didn’t fare so well others were doing quite well. This is because of the size of the market they’re in, but also because of their vertical markets that they are in as well.”
“The year before last we didn’t go backwards,” says Paul. “There was small growth last year and we’ve already achieved quarter-one targets this year, so we’re feeling pretty buoyant about things now.”
He says SnapperNet concentrates its growth efforts on improving relationships with existing customers.
“New customers to us aren’t the key focus. It’s doing more with our existing resellers, trying to build the business of our existing resellers. We’ve built up quite a good partnership with quite a number of our resellers. They’ve gone from selling just one of our brands or range of products to selling two or three. The more that we can prove ourselves as a good distribution partner, the more willing they are to take on more of our products.”
SnapperNet encourages close relationships with resellers by getting involved in projects and ensuring good customer support.
“Obviously we want them to do the best they can and we want their customers to come back for more of our gear,” he says.
“So we get involved at the very beginning. When they’ve got a project and they want a quote, we’ll help as much as we can in the implementation process. While we can’t go out and do it for them, we can help them with pre-configuration.
“We also offer technical support afterwards, not only from our internal team, but we think we’ve chosen some vendors that have particularly good technical support. They react really quickly to any issues that we have. That kind of gets reseller loyalty.
SnapperNet distributes nine brands, including Mako, NetSys and OpenGear.
Paul says he owes SnapperNet’s “slow-but-steady” growth formula to Mark Forbes and John Gould, his business partners whose shares in the company Paul bought up in early 2010.
“When we started out I was the salesman that wanted to set the world on fire,” Paul says. “And it was [Forbes] and [Gould] who were a little bit more experienced than I was and sort of kept the hand-brake half-on which is why we are probably here 10 years later.”