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Steven Turner and SystM’s system

Steven Turner has his work cut out for him. He has recently signed on to head a large Canadian electrical and cabling provider; he has a large staff to manage and grow; and he has to get the word out ...

February 1, 2002  

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Steven Turner has his work cut out for him. He has recently signed on to head a large Canadian electrical and cabling provider; he has a large staff to manage and grow; and he has to get the word out about a company that has existed as a division of another but is now making its own name. And, according to his own corporate business plan, he has exactly three years to do it in.

Turner is the new Vice President of SystM Network Infrastructure of Mississauga, Ontario, a national provider of end-to-end network infrastructures for the commercial, industrial, institutional and government sectors.

The company, which was only recently given its own celebrity, has long been a division of Entourage Technology Solutions Inc. of Montreal, one of Canada’s largest professional and field services organizations that is well known for its cabling work in the residential arena.

But now the smaller piece is breaking free of the larger whole, so to speak, in order to take care of business on its own: the business of commercial cabling.

Visibility problem

So, why haven’t you heard of this side of Entourage before? Well until recently, the company’s commercial offerings were kept fairly low key.

“Everybody recognizes those yellow Entourage trucks pulling up to peoples’ homes and installing jacks and fixing cable and things like that,” says Turner, “but they didn’t realize that the company also had a commercial side of the business.”

While this side has been around since day one, Turner says it had a bit of a visibility problem. “It’s always been here,” he says, “only it was like a little trade secret that nobody knew about.”

“Mainly we are standalone — different mindsets, different skill sets, and different clientele,” says Turner. “We had to get out from that Entourage symbol that is a house on the side of a truck to be known.”

Getting serious

So Entourage started getting serious. After its fifth anniversary in February 2001, its president and CEO, Adrien Pouliot, started to heavily promote the commercial side of the business.

Pouliot gave the company its own name — SystM. And, while it might sound like it is missing a letter, Turner says there was a good deal of thought put into the moniker. “We had a Montreal-based business development company look into it. And they were trying to get something that fit both the Quebec and Western Canada name,” he says. “And it was just a little bit of a play on the name “system” but it sort of sounded that it would work all across Canada.”

To head up the new division, Pouliot hired Turner, an industry veteran of close to 30 years who has spent time in just about every aspect of the business — as an electrician, purchasing agent, estimator, project manager and a self-described “chief cook and bottle washer.”

To differentiate SystM from the rest of Entourage, Pouliot gave the division its own work force (of 150) its own trucks (white with the SystM logo) and launched a large marketing campaign — including a company launch party last November to bring people up to speed.

Telling them apart

Yet while the two companies are under the same umbrella, they are still very different. They employ two distinct labour forces that require different training, vendor certification and installer qualifications.

But that doesn’t mean the smaller company does not rely on big brother. Turner says Entourage, which has 2500 employees (including SystM’s 150), brings a great support to the business in financial stability and project management support.

“Given today’s market, everybody wants to make sure you are going to be around a year from now to warranty the project that you installed earlier,” says Turner. “So Entourage brings great financial stability, bonding capability, insurance and tool support. We’ve got the support of the whole organization.”

Three-year plan

So now that the wheels are in motion, Turner is buckling down to tackle the big issues at hand — developing the business, and handling the financial and corporate directions for the electrical and communications sides of SystM.

He and his team have come up with a three-year business plan, which includes bringing on more salespeople in 2002 to help drive more business. “Over the next three years we will probably at least double, if not triple, the size of the business,” he states confidently.

How will he do that? Well, aside from the new hires, he plans to work hard to get the word out about the company’s products — which run the gamut from voice switches to structured cabling. And he plans to let everyone know how SystM differs from its competitors.

“I think something that separates us from a lot of the cabling companies out there now is we have an electrical arm, plus we have the voice switch and phone set side of the business and we also have PCs. The majority of our competitors can not give that end-to-end solution.” Turner also notes that that SystM is a national company that can support customers across Canada through alliances or other divisions.

“We’ve got the plan and now all we have to do is make it happen,” he says. “And with the team that is here and the connections that we have in the industry, I know we have nowhere to go but up in 2002.”

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