BANFF, Alta. — GB Micro recently celebrated its 20th birthday, a milestone some though it would never reach.

Just over a year ago the memory

distributor nearly closed up shop. Facing bankruptcy thanks to the memory market crash and a failed attempt at becoming a high volume white box builder, GB Micro president Solange Dugas decided to stay in business and try to pay all of her suppliers back.

Two thirds of the payments promised under a creditor-approved arrangement back in Dec. 12, 2001 have been made. And, in six months, Dugas is confident she will make her finally payment and be back to square one.

“”We did what we said we would do, which is stick to memory, have small overhead and be competitive,”” she said.

Tyler Bourns, president of Regina-based system builder PC Place, said he has a lot of respect for Dugas.

“”GB Micro through thick and thin has been strong to their word. They followed up all their warranties knowing they were not going get anymore orders,”” Bourns said.

PC Place worked with GB Micro in the past, but when the distributor fell into financial trouble and was forced to shut down its Vancouver office, Bourns looked elsewhere.

“”It’s all about relationships,”” he said. “”We had an excellent relationship with the rep for GB Micro in Vancouver. When they shut down the office I guess they expect the business to continue. It didn’t.””

But Bourns is keen on rekindling the relationship. After speaking with Dugas he said he in convinced GB is serious about winning business back. Dugas isn’t stopping at PC Place and attended System Builder Breakaway held by CompTIA Canada each year to show off a new line of memory called Platinum.

GB Micro has targeted 500 volume focused system builders for Platinum. Dugas is also targeting VARs and retailers with Platinum.

Besides system builders and VARs, GB Micro is also in discussions with retailers to carry the Platinum line. Staples Business Depot as its largest retailer partner.

“”I will get personally involved and call them myself to promote this,”” Dugas said.

Platinum memory is made by PDP Systems Inc. of Fremont, Calif., a little known memory maker in Canada.

“”We are weak in the Canadian market,”” said Paul Jones, CEO of PDP. “”I looked at the person behind this company and I’ve know GB Micro for a long time, and I thought they conduct themselves honourably. I also thought they still had a good presence in Canada,”” he added.

Only two per cent of PDP sales come from Canada. Jones expects to grow the Canadian market for PDP between $20 to $30 million in this year alone. And, Dugas also believes she can accomplish this goal.

She sites the product quality and manufacturing process as the main reasons for partnering with PDP. Platinum is made with high grade Samsung, Micron and Infinion chips.

“”You know what you are selling and you know it is going to work (because of the manufacturing process at PDP),”” she said.

Bourns said that PC Place will be testing the Platinum line and is interested in how it performs in their white box line.

“”In this arena, we need more than one supplier of semiconductors,”” Bourns said.

GB Micro still distributes Kingston’s upgrade line of memory and she still values them as a supplier. But, Kingston decided not to partner with GB Micro for its KVR line of memory products.

“”I could not sell the KVR product. I had to find another solution. I guess a girl has to take a stand,”” Dugas said.

GB Micro managed to grow the memory side of the business and she started a new business of refurbishing PC coming off of leases.

“”We only buy Intel P3 500 grade A PCs with monitors and HP printers from leasing companies,”” she said.

GB Micro distribute these refurbished systems to VARs. Currently GB Micro has 100 VARs mainly in Quebec that buy refurbished PC systems from them. They have no plans to open this up to the rest of Canada because of the high cost of freight, she said.

Refurbished PCs has added 15 per cent of additional revenue to GB Micro’s bottom line since they started this business in June of last year.

Dugas also believes the Y2K upgrade cycle will increase business in 2003. She added that even if the cost to buy new machines scares companies into prolonging their purchasing decisions they can still increase the memory in those PC for less.

Comment: info@itbusiness.ca

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