Pittsburgh daily opens up Black Box, finds big company

September 16, 2009 by Dave Haynes

It’s still fairly rare when a daily newspaper has a look at one of the technology firms or network operators in this space, but the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette does a fairly deep take on Black Box Network Services, an IT services firm that over the past year has started coming more and more on to the radar screen.

The reporter does a pretty generic look at what the industrty is all about, but also mentions a couple of installs that have never crossed my mind – funeral homes and bingo halls.

More interesting is a look at what Black Box is all about. The company is based in suburban Pittsburgh, has a presence in 142 countries and specializes in data and voice infrastructure systems.

The public company employs about 5,000, with 500 employees at the Lawrence site in Washington County. The company reported revenues of approximately $1 billion in fiscal 2009, with a net income of $45 million. The government comprises the largest portion of the client base, at 23 percent. Black Box has more than 175,000 customers. 

The company offers an entry-level software and hardware platform aimed much more at small business than big networks, and while I know darn near zippo about them, I have seen quite a bit of well-executed marketing work at shows and online. The company sells gear and services, and the rationale for being in the DS space is pretty clear from their Website. Buy our software and player, but while you’re at it, you’ll need all these other cables and thingdoodles we also just happen to sell to finish off your install. 

Going after small businesses job by job is really hard work because each customer takes educating and hand-holding, and several DS companies are trying to win that business. Ask Advanced Method how easy it is, as they confirmed recently they are rethinking the DS in a box business.

The Black Box guys are interesting because of the huge client base, the other revenues they can generate from these smal deals, and the amount of effort they are putting into marketing.  

They’re also making the effort to specifically train their integrators to sell this stuff, which is critical. 

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