Ivan Blacher knew there would be a gap in the cabling market when he and his erst while business associate parted ways. An IT distribution specialist, Blacher went overseas to secure agreements with agencies such as Rextron, Rose and Bafo. With a good reputation behind him, he also succeeded in enticing many of his former employees back into the fold.
Industry expertise. “Many less experienced people see the cabling, networking and KVM (keyboard, video and mouse) switches sector as an easy one to get into,” says Blacher. The reality is somewhat different. With cheap and nasty products flooding the market, Blacher’s electrical engineering background and his understanding of cabling technologies have enabled him to get his new business,Linkqage, off the ground within months.
Launched at the beginning of 2008 with Blacher’s savings, the company now employs 14 people, and has offices in Cape Town and Port Elizabeth with Johannesburg opening soon. Better yet, it was profitable almost from the start.
Quality over cost. “Understanding the market is essential,”says Blacher. “Copper is expensive and has quadrupled in price in a short space of time. As a result, overseas manufacturers from countries like China try to do things cheaply, producing aluminium-based cables that cost less. But these products are inferior and result in endless problems for users. We have stood by our commitment to superior products and it’s paying off.”
Linkqage has extended its range to include all connectivity products, as well as the technical expertise to keep them functioning. The company supplies IT dealers and installers. Blacher says he took advantage of the fact that people already knew him and his team. He stresses, however, that in the distribution business, you are required to work your dealer base continuously.
“Our staff have played an enormous role in the growth of the business,” Blacher adds. “We have a team that has the right attitude and approach to customer service. All our clients are treated in the same way, regardless of the size of the order.”
To streamline the financials of the business, Blacher partnered with his brother Keith who has many years of experience in the systems and accounting sides of the import and wholesale industry.
With suppliers in Taiwan, China, Israel, the US and the UK, Blacher travels frequently. “It’s important to maintain contact with the people you import from. I speak to them almost every day.”
Keeping in touch. The greatest threat to his business is the fluctuation of the rand/dollar exchange rate. This results in stock that is overpriced and has to be sold at cost or even below. “Determining quantities is one of the biggest issues for any importer. I read a great number of magazines and newspapers so that I know what is happening in the market. As a result, I know when there will be a demand for a certain product and we are able to meet it head on.”
For more information, contact: +27 21 514 4800, www.linkqage.co.za