Hytera UK has set up a Projects & Systems department covering the UK, Ireland & BeNeLux headed up by John Whitcomb as Projects & Systems sales director. The move is a major step up for the Chinese two-way radio and infrastructure manufacturer and a sign that it is confident it has established itself in the market.
Explaining the move, Whitcomb said: ‘We’ve built and established the channel business over the last three years for both terminals and infrastructure. The channel is mature now and the dealers like the terminals, so I now have the luxury to build this new department.’
Whitcomb describes the business as a three legged stool comprising the day-to-day channel business, which pays the bills, the marketing, back office, logistics and warehousing elements and then a projects and systems department that brings in a significant contract win every now and again, which provides the business with a major boost in terms of sales and profit.
‘To be a successful business you have got to all three of these legs,’ he said. ‘You’ve got to be able to support what you’ve already done and then you have to demonstrate your credibility after winning projects by ensuring customers are confident that we can support them going forward too.’
Whitcomb added that Hytera UK now has independent legal authority, so it can negotiate for contracts in Europe without having to rely on headquarters back in Shenzhen, China. As of this month, the company has also begun the process of applying for ISO9001 certification for the UK office.
Whitcomb described his key task now as getting the message out to the market place that Hytera has a credible and sophisticated large project department. ‘That is not easy as many systems integrators have long time deals with existing manufacturers,’ he noted. ‘End users expect a high level of support over 10 years, as do system integrators.
‘But you start getting credibility in the market by having the right people on board and by winning some major projects. We have a very large contract with a UK government department and one with PMR operator Entropia in Belgium, which are proof that we can win major contracts,’ Whitcomb pointed out.
On the people front, Hytera has been busy recruiting over the last few months making three major appointments including Hans van der Velden, who had been in the industry 20 years, including Sepura since 2003: he came on board as sales engineer in March.
He was followed by two other highly experienced industry veterans from Tait Communications: Vince Edwards joined in May as systems sales engineer after 20-plus years with Tait, along Chris Cant (sales engineer), who has also been with Tait for over 20 years.
‘It is a great pleasure to work with these top professionals and to see how well they’ve gelled together is fantastic,’ said Whitcomb. ‘We all have plus-20 years each in the industry, so that’s just under 100 years experience together between the four of us! These are all people who have a record of winning large projects.’
Being able to fulfil and provide on-going support for major contracts will play a vital part in the company’s on-going success. Logistics is key here and Hytera head hunted Paul Haskins from Motorola Solutions to run this side of the business, as well as recruiting a new assistant.
‘Paul is shaking things down for us in terms of logistics,’ said Whitcomb. ‘For example, we are moving over to airfreight almost exclusively rather than sea freight, so we can provide just in time deliveries. We actually save money by doing this too. In addition, to help us stand out from the crowd we are committed to carrying a lot of stock to try and meet next day delivery across Europe.’
This is putting pressure on Hytera UK’s existing facilities in Slough, which includes offices, labs, testing areas and warehousing. The company has already expanded out of its new building and should have 30 staff by the end of this year.
Whitcomb said that an additional task will be to educate the company internally as to what Projects and Systems really means. ‘We have the new team, but we also have to have the right culture. Winning and then supporting major projects requires a totally different mindset from moving boxes.
‘We will be deploying equipment on hill top sites, rooftops and remote equipment rooms and that needs a much higher level of commitment for it to be successful. We also need to demonstrate that we can work with potential partners on bids.’
Summing up, Whitcomb said: ‘Our strategy is very simple: to provide world class support using the indirect channel and to support systems integrators to win projects. Ability is important, but dependability is critical.’
Pictured above is the new Hytera UK Projects & Systems team: (from left to right) Hans van der Velden, John Whitcomb, Vince Edwards and Chris Cant.