Steljes U-turn brings stability

Steljes U-turn brings stability

AV distributor recovers to focus on non-education sector

Ten months since Steljes restructured its business for the second time in two years, the audiovisual distributor has claimed it has now entered a period of stability and is beginning to grow again.

Last April, Steljes admitted it had made a mistake in splitting the company into five separate business units in 2005 and announced it had dissolved the management positions of each unit to bring the company back under one management umbrella.

Mark Bird, group sales and business development director at Steljes, said that the divisional heads had all been excellent hires, but said the distributor had been unable to get the five units to work together. “We had also hoped that the new divisions would bring resellers closer to us, but it did not. It actually segmented resellers, which caused conflict,” he said.

Bird added the consolidation was now complete and that Steljes was forging ahead with various plans, including focusing on growing its non-education business. Currently, Steljes’ business split is 80 per cent education and 20 per cent non-education and, according to Bird, the non-education business is growing quarter on quarter.

“Last quarter was our highest performing quarter for non-education sales of Smart Technology products for nine years,” said Bird.

“Eleven years ago, 90 per cent of our business was in the corporate sector and 10 per cent in the education sector. Now we are starting to see a shift back. For the first time ever large organisations are adopting interactive products, including collaborative meeting technology such as data conferencing.”

As the exclusive UK distributor for Smart Technology interactive whiteboards (IWBs), Steljes’ main bread and butter for the past five years has been the education sector. However, IWBs have almost reached saturation point in this sector, so the distributor and Smart are keen to help channel partners focus on new markets including health, defence and the corporate sector. To encourage VARs to move into non-educational markets, Steljes is offering tactical growth funds (TGF) through its Logiqal partner programme.

“Traditionally, VARs had to be at a certain level in our partner programme to get access to marketing development funds. But under Logiqal, even smaller resellers can receive TGF if they require assistance with a non-education proposition,” said Bird.

Steljes has also increased the number of staff who focus on developing non-educational business opportunities from two to 13.

Daryl Clarke, managing director of one of Steljes’ largest VARs, Matrix Display Systems, said: “Steljes VARs have had a tough time because of all the changes, but hopefully we can all move on and focus on the growth in non-education markets that Steljes is looking for.”

Colin Messenger, senior consultant at Decision Tree Consulting, said: “As the UK education sector is advanced with regards to take-up of IWBs, the UK is now being viewed by vendors as a fantastic test bed for establishing IWBs in new verticals.

“Steljes put in the effort to grow Smart to become the leading IWB brand in the UK education sector, so if it can find the next niche sector it will be doing very well,” he said.