The eureka moment for Mark Thomas came when, as a salesman, his best customer didn’t want to buy his product as it wasn’t very good. Seeing a market that wasn’t being well serviced, Thomas teamed up with a former colleague, Chris Jones, to launch Switchshop in 1999. The company deals in networking equipment – “anything to do with shifting data around a campus or across a wide area network,” explains Thomas. Between 80-90 per cent of clients are in the public sector, which has provided good stability. “It’s a difficult market to break into, but if you are in and know the people, you should protect it. They tend to be quite loyal.” Other than that, it has been a question of getting the basics right. “We make sure quotes are answered immediately, we ship kit as fast as we can and work on good customer relationships. We have good credit lines with major distributors and try to pay on time,” says Thomas. Sales have increased from £2m to £5.9m over four years, achieved with just ten staff. www.switchshop.co.uk
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