Agile move pays off for IT network firm

Dublin IT networking company Agile Networks has won a three-year contract to provide a wireless network for all Department of Justice offices around the country.

“In the first phase we will be supplying wireless to 19 Department of Justice sites and over three years we will roll out to cover all its sites nationwide,” managing director Darragh Richardson said, adding: “This is important as it opens up the public sector to us.”

He said the company has a number of other contracts in the pipeline over the next six months.

Despite the difficulties of increasing sales in the domestic market in the current climate, Agile Networks has achieved significant growth since it was formed following a management buyout in late 2011.

“The company won €2.3m in contracts in its first year and our staff size has increased from six to 10. We started with seven customers and now we have 41,’’ revealed Mr Richardson, who led the buyout.

The staff previously worked for the Irish operation of international integrator Telindus, which announced its decision to withdraw from Ireland in mid-2011. Looking at the customers and the technology, the staff decided that despite the difficult economic climate, this was a viable business.

Supported by an €80,000 grant from Fingal County Enterprise Board, the new company began trading in Nov 2011.

“We retained the staff and customers and we decided to focus on our core business — IT networking,’’ Mr Richardson said. He explained that Telindus had a wider range of activities.

Agile Networks was set up to design, build, and support networks for medium and large enterprises.

“We concentrated our focus on particular types of customers — technology-focused organisations who are very reliant on their networks.’’

Before it closed, the Telindus operation in Ireland had a turnover of over €1m and its customers were mostly based in Dublin.

Staying in the same premises in Blanchardstown Corporate Park, the staff named the new company Agile Networks and began targeting three specific customer types: Complex public sector networks, technology companies, and large enterprises.

It now has customers all over Ireland including the HSE, the ESB, Abbot Laboratories, Ripplecom in Limerick, Eishtech in Waterford, and Pepper Home Loans in Shannon.

Mr Richardson said that although Agile Networks is a small company competing against large companies like BT and Eircom, it is gaining ground.

“Reasons for our success include our dedicated focus on networking technology and our ability to offer technical excellence. Although there are many IT networking companies, we are one of a small number to specialise in this area,” he said.

In a difficult market, he said medium- and large-sized companies need to upgrade their networks to stay competitive. “Investment in IT is continuing, usually with a view to expansion or replacing old technology,” he said.

“In Ireland, companies are looking to refresh their network to stay ahead of their competitors.’’

Mr Richardson said the need for security and to adapt to new technology such as cloud computing are some of the reasons customers look for the services of his company. “But it is a very tough market and people are looking for value for money,” he added.

Contracts won by Agile Networks during 2012 include one with HEAnet to connect over 200 post-primary schools with broadband.

Over the next few years the company will be providing a broadband network for 750 schools.

In the last year the company also signed agreements with Digiweb, GE, and Magnet Networks. On foot of continued growth, Agile Networks is now in the process of recruiting two more engineers and is aiming to grow the staff size to 15 by the end of the year.

The success of Agile Networks in 2012 was recognised by the US manufacturer of networking equipment Juniper Networks, which named it as United Kingdom and Ireland partner of the year at a global partner conference in December.

Fingal Dublin Chamber of Commerce also named it best new business 2012.

With a pipeline of projects for the next six months, Mr Richardson is optimistic that Agile Networks will continue to grow this year.

The fledgling company made a small profit in its first year and is now aiming to increase this and to grow the turnover to €3.5m in 2013.


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