Williams & Co.

Company: PerleCustomer: Williams & Co.

Submitted by: MCC InternationalDate: August 2000Systems is the IT division and burgeoning reseller arm of its privately-owned, family-run parent, Williams Trade Supplies, a merchant in plumbing and heating supplies that trades under the name of Williams & Co. Formed in 1970 with its headquarters in Fareham, Hampshire, Williams & Co employs 35 people and has an annual turnover of £4-5 million generated by five branches across England’s Southern counties. It typically sells bathrooms, toilet pans and boilers from a stock list of thousands, primarily to local small-to-medium plumbing businesses.In 1997, Rob Williams, the son of the founder of Williams Trading Supplies, was hired to create a formal IT division with a view of sourcing and building systems to better support the company’s future expansion plans and corporate goals.”As a user, our aim is to employ technology to strengthen our staff’s product knowledge and improve customer service,” says Mick Williams, founder and Managing Director of Williams Trade Supplies.

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“We recognise that it’s our people who will drive this business forward and ultimately gain us the competitive edge.”Williams & Co.’s initial quest to update its systems began with upgrading the company’s telephone infrastructure from analogue to digital lines. “We were inspired by the potential business benefits,” says Rob Williams. “It meant we could introduce Windows and Web-based applications, and create an Intranet and extranet to help share information with our staff and broaden access to our customer base.

“The Williams team searched the Internet for possible IP solutions, and came across Zeta products from Perle. “We were offered complete solutions by other suppliers but the Zeta Voice over IP solution was significantly cost-effective, and we could do the installation ourselves with their help,” adds Mick Williams.Zeta’s Smart 103, SmartNet Duo Voice over IP routers and the Perle 833 Remote Access Server were duly installed.”The combination of this technology has given us a cutting edge IT infrastructure,” says Mick Williams. “The advantage of this approach means we can turn any PC into a thin client operating virtual sessions and running 32-bit applications. These remote stations’ specification can be quite low, yet the desktops are up-to-date and the speed is excellent.

We will eventually migrate to an updated NT application with web-enabled e-business access, so the Intranet/WAN router system we designed had to be future proof.”The main business benefits for Williams ; Co. are more integrated business systems with staff able to share and access information more easily and quickly, improved product knowledge and morale among staff, better customer service, and a wider access to customers through the Web. Stock item searches now take three seconds instead of twenty-seven, while one Williams ; Co. branch manager says he is saving one hour a day because of faster system response times.Consequently, Rob Williams has updated the company’s wide area network (WAN) to support a computer-based training (CBT) programme for staff.

Accessed over an Intranet, the upgraded Williams & Co. technologies speed up screen updates at the sales desks. Zeta, a pioneer in the rapidly growing field of Voice over IP (VOIP), provides the systems that sit at the heart of this strategy.The reseller, Williams Systems, has benefited by installing networking systems that support its plans to offer a full range of IT services to other businesses in the future.”As a Zeta reseller, we intend to offer smaller businesses a complete business NT and IP networking solutions,” explains Rob Williams, who is general manager of Williams Systems as well as IT Manager of Williams & Co. “We know our solutions can save small firms thousands of pounds by creating their whole networking infrastructure based on Zeta’s quality products.

“Mick Williams is confident that the Zeta products from Perle have given him a future-proofed IT strategy that can support both his plumbing and heating merchant business and his new IT reseller arm. He is particularly excited about the business potential of Williams Systems as a Perle Zeta reseller. He says, “As a reseller we will offer Web-based applications programming and complete networking solutions for smaller businesses based around Zeta’s routers and Perle Remote Access Servers.”He concludes, “The Zeta systems are bringing our business vision at Williams alive, helping us in our expansion plans as a user, and as an IT service provider. We couldn’t have achieved what we have without Zeta products from Perle systems and support.”