Power & Tel: More than a supply chain partner

By Lesley Hunter

How does a 54 year old company keep pace with the changing demands – including new products and services – in the ever evolving communications industry?  Through the benefits borne of family ownership, timeless business practices like reliability, and enduring relationships built on trust, according to Aaron Rush, Power & Tel’s regional sales manager for Canada.

Founded in 1963 and headquartered in Memphis, Tennessee, Power & Tel is a wholesale distributor to the communications industry with inventories ranging from cable and IPTV networks to tools and testing to fibre-to-the-home builds.

The company expanded in to Canada in 1995 after acquiring General Cable’s distribution business in order to establish itself as a full line communications industry distributor north of the border, in keeping with its business model in the U.S.  In 2004, after buying Markham, Ontario-based CableTel Communications, Power & Tel Canada expanded into cable television distribution.  Both divisions currently reside together at the company’s Canadian corporate office located in Burlington, ON.

Power & Tel has since evolved beyond distribution to include supply chain management and logistics services through a program known as Power & Tel Managed Inventory (or PTMI), said Rush, who joined the company in 2013 and oversees its outside sale team.  Through warehouses in Alberta, Ontario and Nova Scotia that stock hundreds of communications products from multiple suppliers, Rush says that Power & Tel prides itself on providing “the right product, at the right time, for the right price” within two days to any location in Canada.

“It’s really about our large purchasing volume with our vendors”, he said.  “Some of the smaller operators take full advantage of that costing, once we’ve made some commitments back and forth, and that includes for things like IP set top boxes, and all of the parts and pieces that drive a fibre build from a central office right in to the customer’s home, including the gateways, the modems, the wireless components and all of the required fibre and cable products.  We truly offer end to end solutions.”

Rush cited the company’s decade-long partnership with Halifax-based telecommunications company Eastlink as an ideal example of its PTMI offering.  “We’re their total logistical and warehouse provider, they don’t even have a warehouse because we are their warehouse”, he explained.  “We have access to and manage everything that they’re buying, and whether that’s from us or a competitor, we still manage the levels of inventory, making sure it’s in on time, managing the transportation, really all logistical functions.  This service is what I would describe as a true partnership of trust.”

PTMI is a key area of growth for Power & Tel, Rush added, and it is taking off amongst Canadian and U.S. service providers requiring large logistical services.

“A lot of our warehouses go out at over 99.5% on a monthly basis – that’s the targets we hit on a regular basis”, he continued.  “We can offer various levels of inventory management. If you’re a smaller person that just wants me to stock it for you, fine.  If you’d like me to provide some services around that, I can do that, too.  For example, we could cut the fibre and ship it to you in lengths. We can bundle various products together and ship everything needed for one site to the contractor. So it really comes down to ‘what do you really need us to do for you’?”

Power & Tel has also expanded into data centre design and products, driven in part by the growth in Internet of Things (IoT), machine-to-machine (M2M) communication and the increasing use of the cloud.  Rush said that Canadian companies stand to benefit from the company’s data centre experiences in the U.S.

“In the U.S. we’ve dealt with the rural companies, the Tier 2s and the Tier3s, and we’ve done a very good job there. There’s the large data centre builders, the Googles and the Amazons of the world, and sure we’d love to do business with them, but 35% of the money being spent is in the rural data centres, the Tier 2 data centres, as they start to build ‘out to the edge’. Our play really is in a lot of that space, and we’re hiring good people with that knowledge base and are now building that piece of the business.  That is not something that people may think of when they think of Power & Tel.  We’ve been pushing that hard for about the last year or so and I see a lot of opportunities for our customer base.”

Power & Tel’s foray into wireless design and products is another new area of growth that is beginning to take shape.

“People tend to know us a wireline provider, so it’s been hard to become known as a wireless supplier, even four years in to it”, Rush added.  “You’ve got to get out there and do your marketing.  Our wireless solutions are part of what we’ve been displaying at the SCTE, CommTech East and West, and other shows like the CCSA’s annual general meeting.”

Power & Tel is a long-standing sponsor of both CommTech shows.

For more information, please visit https://www.ptsupply.com

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