Commit Services is officially a start-up, though by virtue of the staff it has a rich history in the cabling business.
When it began trading late last year after forming to buy IBM’s cabling division, it brought together industry veteran Warren Giles and his brother, ex-Vodafone sales director Mark Giles, whose joint philosophy is all about total customer service and having fun.
Each previously worked for IBM, with Mark having run a wholly owned, US-based software development subsidiary for the company in the 1990s. However, Commit’s general manager Warren was national cabling manager for the IBM cabling division prior to starting the company. He knows the game inside out after 25 years’ experience and having seen the company through the last few of its many iterations.
He was recruited to Anite Networks about six years ago – after its previous existences as Case and then Cray – but before the buyouts by Logical, Logical CSI and then IBM four years ago.
Warren says many of the current team of seven staff taken on from IBM in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch have been with the company since it was Cray, so have 12 or so year’s experience with the firm.
“Everyone remembers those previous company names. Our relationships with customers in a lot of cases go back 12 years,” he says. “Customers have ended up becoming our friends as well and that made it easier with the transition from IBM. At the end of the day people deal with people and it doesn’t matter what your company name is.”
The brothers want Commit’s customer service to set it apart from other providers, with the company adopting detailed performance measures down to how quickly customers are invoiced and the timeliness of on-site service. Staff are also rewarded each month for sales achievement.
“Our whole ethic is a maniacal focus on serving,” says Mark. “Around New Zealand people have lost that service ethic – ‘we will deliver’ aren’t the words you hear coming out of people’s mouths.”
However, he acknowledges the company has to choose its growth areas carefully to be able to maintain service levels.
“We have to ask, ‘can we deliver? Is it fun? Is it where we want to go?’. It’s in our DNA to grow, but that means we have to serve really well. If you’re not delivering all the time you shouldn’t work here.
“Because we’re new there are some opportunities we need to continue to qualify.”
Mark sees potential growth opportunities in data centre provisioning and design and consultancy services, with customers requiring more robust architectures.
There are also avenues to explore under the IBM agreement, which gives Commit access to hardware and services. However, Mark says he wants to get to the six-month mark and then see if IBM can be part of its growth plans in particular areas. Commit is the preferred installer for IBM’s customer base and still has a strong partner relationship with the vendor.
“If we’re helping them in a named account, while we’re serving, there’s no reason we can’t say to IBM ‘we’re doing this and there seems to be opportunities’ or ‘the customer has provided feedback to ask us to do something’.”
Commit was incorporated last July to be GST registered, a prerequisite to make the short-list to buy the cabling division, however it began trading on 3 December 2007. The Commit name brings together communication and IT, with Mark saying it is easy to represent as a brand.
The pair refers to Commit’s launch as Operation Unleash, because they are widening staff members’ roles in accordance with their abilities. “Within IBM it had been a cabling function, whereas all the guys had capabilities beyond that,” Mark says.
As shareholder, director and business development manager, Mark Giles is also bringing valuable skills to the business. Before Vodafone, he was CEO for Alcatel New Zealand and is now the Auckland chairperson for charity Youthline.
He also has other ventures starting up or in the pipeline after climbing off the corporate ladder at Vodafone.
He says he chose to leave Vodafone to spend more time with his two daughters and partner and to “have my own plays”.
“I’ve come from different roles so I’ve got a skill set to say let’s grow the business five times or three times. Warren has an amazing gift with the customers and staff. This is about supporting him and having fun for me.”