3Com has lost a lot of clout

3Com has always been one of the good companies to deal with. Its products are best in class. It is a faithful channel advocate. And its leaders, including Eric Benhamou in the U.S. and Nick Tidd here in Canada, have always been available to the media.

However, the company’s latest round of

global staff cuts, including Canada, makes no sense at all.

For 3Com’s side of things please read the following prepared statement by 3Com spokesperson Karin Bakis:

3Com is reshaping its sales operations in Canada to a model that relies more heavily on distributors and resellers, while at the same time continuing to deliver innovative, high-performance networking solutions that offer greater return on investment to customers, as well as superior levels of service.

Canada is an important market for 3Com. We are a channel-led company, and will work in close co-operation with our channel partners in Canada to continue to service existing accounts and grow our customer base here.

Although 3Com will no longer have a GM position in Canada, it will maintain its presence in Canada with specialists dedicated to serving customers by supporting 3Com distributors and resellers. 3Com is currently meeting with its partners to discuss these changes to keep them informed on their support infrastructure in Canada.

We continue to have extensive operations in North America and provide a full roster of pre- and post-sales support from our key offices that support activity across the region. As stated in the past, 3Com continuously reviews its cost structure in the context of its objective of restoring the company to being a growing, profitable business.

3Com continues to do selective hiring to acquire the skills and experience that are critical to attainment of its goals for renewed growth and profitability. It will also continue to implement cost saving measures as appropriate as it manages the business to higher profitability. As part of this drive 3Com eliminated a small number of positions this week.

No matter how you sweet-talk around this mess it is a mess. Bruce Comeau was promoted to run the Canadian operation at the beginning of this year. That was just three-months ago. He developed what looked to be a solid strategy for this marketplace. Comeau has been a loyal 3Com employee for seven-plus years. He hasn’t all suddenly become stupid overnight to get his walking papers. The same must be said about 3Com Canada’s former channel manager Gavin Fick, who was also let go last week. He has an excellent reputation in the channel and was making progress.

The result? OAM Computer Group, one of CDN’s top 100 solution providers last year and was onboard with 3Com products and strategy is now its president Patrick Power wants to know why 3Com has gone this route.

3Com should have been patient and allowed its team here to see its plan through. Who knows it could have worked? Instead, 3Com has chosen to go the knee-jerk reactionary route. It’s as though Bruce Claflin, the president and CEO of 3Com, woke up in the morning looked at his balance sheet and thought: Forget strategic long-term thinking, planning and vision – fire everyone.

Here is what Claflin said not too long ago. “”3Com had sequential growth of 12 per cent last quarter, which is our first sequential growth in a year. In Q2 we made considerable progress and believe with strong execution we will continue to make progress over the balance of this fiscal year and beyond.””

The words Claflin uses such as “”strong execution””, “”progress”” and “”beyond”” would indicate that as a business leader he is serious about 3Com’s future and the future of 3Com’s channel partners. But instead with the global cuts the words sound phony.

So 3Com Canada is without any local leadership, and believe me resellers thirst for leadership. In its absence they will turn to whomever will provide any type of leadership. In this case, it will be 3Com’s competitors, each of which has strong management in Canada.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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