There was a plan behind 3Com Corp.’s gutting of its senior Canadian management, says the U.S.-based company official now in charge of operations here.

In an exclusive interview with CDN, Jim Kennedy, 3Com’s vice president of sales for North American eastern region and Canada, said that

because of poor financial results the corporation decided to go in a different direction.

3Com has dropped its hybrid sales model for an all-channel model with an emphasis on major cities such as Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal and Vancouver. Other areas out west and in the Maritime provinces will be covered by 3Com partners, Kennedy said.

He said that his team is working on a coverage model for western Canada and the East Coast. “”We will do the best we can for partners and grow our business and our partners’ market share,”” he said.

The company has done this kind of management restructuring more than once in the past decade only to re-hire and start again. But Kennedy vows this time it will be different.

Kennedy also said he will visit Canada more frequently than before. He is currently based in Atlanta.

On his side in Canada is Patrick Power, president of OAM Computer Group of Toronto, one of 3Com Canada’s strategic partners in this marketplace.

“”That suits me fine,”” he said of the new plans. “”It supports my local and national business. We can run self sufficiently, but we need to have a high level of resources for any given sales situation.””

Power added that there is a market for 3Com products in Canada especially in the SMB space.

3Com has also been mandated to cut costs out of operations. Kennedy could not be specific, but he did offer this example: 3Com employees in Detroit will now support Windsor, Ont.-based resellers. Before this was handled by the Toronto office.

Power thinks changes such as these are smart as long as the support is there.

A local channel manager is an option Kennedy will leave open for the time being. He agreed that a Canadian executive to handle programs, promotions and other reseller needs is a good idea.

Power is encouraged that a local channel manager maybe in the cards.

“”They have to understand the lesson that Canada cannot be run out of the U.S. The one thing is it needs to be treated differently. Having said, that there is no problem dealing with Americans,”” he said.

Kennedy would not answer any questions about the strategies of former Canadian general manager Bruce Comeau. But he did dispute one source’s comment that 3Com Canada was holding its own with Cisco here.

Kennedy said: “”My data would not indicate that to be a fact.””

Kennedy said he is comfortable with 3Com’s partner base in Canada’s strategic centres, although he has not finished his evaluation of that base and could not say how many there are. He did, however, say that growth in the number of channel partners is possible, especially if the business grows.

“”Our goal quite simply is to grow out our business through partners,”” he said.

“”We are serious about this market, and yes, we will be providing a lot more resources. It is clear to me from my team meeting in Toronto that our employees did not know the wealth of our resources. This will augment the business.””

Kennedy also disputed a rumour that 3Com’s worldwide staff cuts were a move to look attractive for a Dell acquisition.

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