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Owners intervene to curb ESP's flagging fortunes

Owners intervene to curb ESP's flagging fortunes

Two industry veterans have had to take a more hands-on approach to shore up what was once a thriving Auckland reseller.

As recently as last year, Expert Solution Providers (ESP) is believed to have employed more than 20 staff and operated a respected security and networking practice, including a consulting unit.

However, staff numbers are now reduced to 10, while the company has also shut its Wellington office.

ESP was bought by Greg McKeown, a co-founder of Axon, and Max Divers, managing director of Divers Group, in March, after founder John King exited the company due to ill health.

They initially planned to take an advisory role, says McKeown.

“[Our] intention at the time was to allow the management of the company to get on with growing the business. However, changes have been rung from October and we’ve taken a more direct role.”

General manager Richard Crabb departed ESP in October, along with James MacKinnon, who once headed ESP’s consulting arm.

They joined the Auckland office of Wellington-based Network Pro, where Crabb is now northern region branch manager and MacKinnon chief technology officer.

According to sources close to ESP, a further six staff have left the company since then, while at least one of the remaining employees is set to depart early next year.

Sources say this has left ESP without the technical staff to deliver the security expertise it was once renowned for.

But McKeown says he and Divers have plans to revive the company’s fortunes and will be hiring people in its core area of network infrastructure, while a new client services manager started this week.

“Since [October] the focus has been on staff training and client service. We are taking the opportunity, as we add new staff, to look at expanding our service offerings beyond network security. New plans are under development and will be rolled out in a February-March timeframe.”

Nortel, Checkpoint, Watchguard, Trend Micro and RSA will remain core product sets for ESP, he says.

ESP was founded by John King in 1996. He is now national sales manager at distributor Express Data.


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