We are thrilled to announce that Silicon Halton has reached 1000 members, with our 1000th member joining the LinkedIn Group last week. This milestone puts us well on the way to our BHAG goal of 2500 members this year and shows that our three pillars of Technology, Community, and Growth are really resonating with high-tech professionals living or working in Halton Region.
Meet Our 1000th Member!
Our 1000th member is Alan Montgomery (LinkedIn profile), a telecom tech serial entrepreneur based in Burlington. His latest venture is ModTel Installations, a telecom service company. Alan lists his title on LinkedIn as "CEO, shipping clerk and janitor", so we had a feeling he would be an interesting person to talk to.
So this intrepid reporter caught up with Alan on the Internet and asked him a few questions.
Alan Montgomery on Entrepreneurial Beginnings
Q: Can you tell us about how you got started and your current company?
A: Voicetouch (my first venture) was created in 1991 as an entirely different venture than what it became. It began as a part time venture with my dad here in Burlington providing telecom based check-ins on seniors on behalf of their children (think of a proactive alternative to "I've fallen and I can't get up"). That didn't really develop as well as we had hoped, and the company lay dormant for a couple of years while I worked in sales and marketing for several industrial control firms.
I've loved finding deals and buying/selling ever since I was a kid, and an opportunity presented itself where I could do that all day, every day and get paid for it and I've been at it ever since. The nice thing about being a small company is that it's very fluid and responsive to opportunities. There are no huge bureaucratic hoops to jump through to get approval for a new product or market. I've pursued several of these over the years, and subsequently sold off that part of the business. As examples, we supplied PDA parts to the North American repair centers of major retailers for 6 years, as well as sold large quantities of surplus computers and blackberries to eastern Europe and Africa. Every day was different and exciting - what every job should be! For the last 8 years or so, VoiceTouch has been focused mainly on the wholesale space in the telecom sector as a telecom equipment broker.
A little over a year ago, I acquired ModTel Installations (http://www.modtel.ca/), which was a good customer of mine. ModTel focused on installing and maintaining telephone systems for retail clients (such as Dr.'s offices and school boards). Since then, I've spent most of my time growing that business, and now have 5 technicians serving customers across the GTA. Being more vertically integrated than our competitors, we have a distinct price advantage as well as a substantial inventory (with warehouse space in Burlington as well as Niagara Falls, NY). In the past year, we've ramped up the VoIP and networking side of the business as well as entering into a couple of strategic partnerships to better serve our customers.
Q: Are you facing any business challenges at the moment?
A: I face the same ones that most (all) small businesses face: finding good people, cash flow and finding a balance between traditional marketing and online/social media... all while trying to run and grow a successful business!
No Place Like Halton for Home, Work, and Community
Q: Do you live or work in Halton (or both)?
A: I live and work in Halton, and have my whole life. I went to school at Nelson and Sheridan College, and now my kids are going to the same elementary school that I did. I've traveled a fair bit, but have never found a place I'd rather live (other than an island off the coast of Australia, but the telecom opportunities were pretty thin!).
Q: How did you hear about Silicon Halton?
A: I found you through LinkedIn and also through a friend who works out of the Burlington HiVE.
Q: Why did you decide to join Silicon Halton?
A: I wanted to join because I've found that being around innovative people spawns, well, innovation and creativity. I think I can both contribute to, and benefit from, that dynamic.
Q: What can you help other members with?
A: A lot of people find the whole VoIP topic quite daunting and confusing. Hopefully, I can distill some of the cacophony down and help people decide if VoIP is something they should be considering... it's not for everyone.
Welcome to Silicon Halton, Alan, along with everyone else who has joined in the last few months!
Dave Truman writes about technology and makes technical information easier to find and use. He has done information architecture, marketing writing, and technical writing for companies ranging from Dell to lean software startups. Learn more and contact Dave at <http://davetruman.com> .
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