3Com Canada country manager laid off: sources

3Com Canada country manager Bruce Comeau has been laid off less than six months after his appointment, according to sources close to the company.

Spokespeople for the networking vendor did not respond at press time to confirm

the rumour, which would leave an operation that includes offices in Mississauga, Ont., Ottawa, Edmonton and Montreal without local leadership. Channel manager Gavin Fick has also been let go, sources said.

One source said that only four employees remain at 3Com Canada, while another from within the firm was not sure how many have been affected by this round of layoffs. The confusion rests with the many contract or short-term employees the subsidiary has hired at any given time, a source said.

The layoffs are part of a North America-wide sweep at 3Com consisting mostly of sales people, according to a former 3Com Canada employee who did not want to be named.

“”My understanding is this was not Canada but worldwide. They let go a lot of sales people this round. In the past, they let go (of) back end people such as central office administration people, marketing people,”” the source said. “”This is the first time in several rounds of cuts in the past year or two where they have let go a lot of sales people and I think Canada got pinched along with everyone else.””

The source added that 3Com Canada was holding its own in the market but has suffered two years of poor performance.

“”3Com has been pinched like a lot of the other telecom and networking companies. It is sad to see a former technology giant take it on the chin like this in Canada,”” the source said.

Comeau was appointed 3Com’s Canadian country manager at the beginning of this year, and told ITBusiness.ca he wanted to expand the subsidiary’s business into large enterprise markets through the channel and with its China-based Huawei Technologies Co. partnership as of 2003.

Comeau, 38, a seven-year veteran of the company, replaced Nick Tidd, who was named worldwide director of go-to-market strategies earlier this year in charge of the 3Com/Hauwei integration. Tidd did not return calls for comment on this story.

Executives at Audcomp Computer Systems, a 3Com Canada reseller based in Hamilton, Ont, said they were shocked and disappointed over the rumours.

Paul Furtado, vice-president of Audcomp, said Comeau’s and Fick’s departures will leave a big hole in the marketplace.

“”U.S. companies never seem to understand that Canada is a different marketplace and that we need local support here. You can’t run Canada like another state. Those who have (in the past) have not had success. It is a shame they had to go that route,”” Furtado said.

Gary Sohal, president of Audcomp, said 3Com Canada has not been able to compete with other manufacturers with similar product lines. Over some time, he added, 3Com Canada lost market share. “”They are not as strong as they used to be. Therefore, it’s unfortunate that they see Canada as a smaller market. They should put in more manpower and promotion to build awareness into Canada instead of pulling back,”” Sohal said.

OAM Computer Group’s Patrick Power was also surprised at the people 3Com laid off.

“”I have an excellent relationship with 3Com in Canada and clearly we need to know what the reasoning behind this move was. At this stage of the game, it is too early to say exactly how it will impact my business,”” Power said.

He added that OAM has a good relationship with 3Com corporately and deals with other vendors from a U.S. perspective. “”This may not impede our ability moving forward with 3Com. I suspect this may be a reaction to quarterly financial analyst expectations,”” he said.

However, another source disagrees. “”The optics here are very bad. And it is at a time when they are trying to impress the channel and end users that they are a comparable alternative to Cisco and other big players. This doesn’t look good,”” the source said.

Comment: info@itbusiness.ca

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