Discussing the future with Redline’s Managing Director

Redline Telecommunications SA is a South African based company which specialises in wireless infrastructure and does manufacturing of Free Space Optic products, as well as the design and deployment of wireless broadband solutions to clients.

“If you want reliable, high speed broadband connectivity based on sound availability and quality assurance, then Redline is the company to approach.”

Charl Basson, Managing Director of Redline Telecommunications SA, discusses the history behind the subsidiary company, as well as its future going forward.

What is the story behind Redline?

Redline was established in 1999 while founding member, Johan Steyn, was in the process of rebranding and reselling an international FSO product called PAV. Out of that came the urge to develop a unique South African Free Space Optic (FSO) product. The first Redline FSO product was developed by Steyn and his engineering team Mike Moyes; Joubert Cilliers and Ian Roulstone. The product has since then been altered and modified to what it is today..

In 2006, I came on board with the focus to change the Redline product portfolio and decided we shouldn’t just focus on FSO but also on other broadband products. It was a year later (2007) when Johan Steyn decided it was time for him to step aside and he sold his shares to Parsec. This provided Redline the opportunity to focus on selling and integration of high quality broadband solutions as it had the backing of Parsec’s high tier quality design, development and manufacturing team to support Redline and its clients.

What does Free Space Optics (FSO’s) mean?

Free Space Optic is a point to point wireless device that works with laser technology, commonly referred to in the industry as ‘fibre through the air.’ It’s basically a data communication medium / wireless communication device.

Parsec Holdings is an umbrella company for Parsec (Pty) Ltd and Redline Telecommunications SA. How do you understand the two subsidiary companies to differ from one another?

Parsec is basically a design, development and production company which is more focused on turning out products, whereas Redline is leaning more towards the services industry where we sell and support these products. We are a wireless services integrator and Parsec is a manufacturer.

What makes Redline unique in its market?

We are the only FSO manufacturer on the African continent and most probably ranked in the top 10 worldwide of Free Space manufacturers. Additionally, I believe that we understand the wireless market and can provide quality support and services.

What was the highlight of 2012 for Redline?

Our greatest highlight was a contract that we engaged in with the Department of Defence via one of our integrators, resulting in a new market that opened up for us. Also, the
trial launch, as opposed to commercial launch, of our gigabit product.

How does Redline see the future – any special plans, operations or projects for 2013?

I cannot answer the question completely for confidential reasons, but we are hoping and confident that Redline will gain momentum with regards to our diverse product portfolio, included in this is the RF combined with the Free Space Optic products. We feel there will be an increase in momentum as broadband in Africa has been lagging compared to Europe and America. Furthermore, we have noticed with the launch of new submarine cables, there are a lot more possibilities in the market. Initially, we thought that all the fibre would diminish our market but rather, it seems to have complemented it.

As Managing Director of Redline, what is your vision for the company going forward?

Within the next 2 – 5 years, I see Redline’s behaviour going through quite radical changes in the sense that we are engaging in a different model. We can provide a great deal more when it comes to our product portfolio options; and not just FSOs but wireless. We want to expand into infrastructure as well, specifically fibre, LAN and WAN deployments. That will be our main focus area that we want to achieve. Furthermore, we would like to pursue a future development strategy in the FSO product portfolio in order to complement the growing demand of data. As it stands, we currently have two products, typically high end and low cost. And we want to become world market leaders in the high end product space.

Talking to Parsec’s Managing Director

Parsec (Pty) Ltd was founded in 1993 and has since developed into a world class player in the outsourced development and manufacturing market. It is a privately owned company which develops and produces customised electronic subsystems and products for clients in the defence, industrial and telecommunications sectors. Parsec’s clients typically include OEMS, system integrators, engineering companies and service providers.

Petrus Pelser, Managing Director of Parsec (Pty) Ltd, shared his view on both the past and the future of the ever-growing company.

How did Parsec (Pty) Ltd come about?

Initially, it was a small company operating as a vehicle for consulting. Rynier and I always wanted to establish a formal business/organisation. As part of the process, we joined up with an already established entity called Parsec Engineering and between us we acquired a number of additional companies, creating a fairly strong brand both nationally and globally within the high tech field. Our focus has never been on our own products so much as on assisting our clients to gain a competitive advantage in the market.

Define the message you wish to get across to your audience?

We have been promoting a technology company that partners with our clients. There may be numerous other organisations with our capabilities but they are all internally focused. Parsec has the same competence, if not more. However, it makes its capability accessible to other businesses. What’s more, from an international and global perspective, we are a privately owned company consisting of highly energised people, a very healthy culture and a strong South African base.

Why Parsec?

Taking a look at the environment in which we operate, there is no denying that we have healthy competition within the manufacturing and development sectors. However, the difference lies within our Start-to-Finish Solutions, as well as our track record. By offering a unique blend of all inclusive electronic design and production services, we are able to provide optimal start-to-finish solutions for our clients. Additionally, we have been around for a number of years with a proven track record of many products in the field, not only our own, but those of our clients as well. Therefore, these two aspects combined with our skills set leads us to believe we have what we consider to be a strong competitive edge.

What was the highlight of 2012?

Deloitte recognising us as The Best Company to Work For. The reason being that the outcome of the survey was not something we could influence or control. It t was based on the opinion of our employees, which makes it more valuable in my mind. Additionally, to think that we are part of making Africa a better place to work – as the Deloitte slogan states. Furthermore, in 2012 we received a very high volume product order through one of our partners, as opposed to the usually more complex medium to low volume orders that we normally accept. We also implemented a strategy change in 2012 which we will drive further in 2013 through continued investments into high value IP.

Anything special planned for 2013?

Many plans, but to name a few include participating in the 2013 Best Company to work for survey, as well as further growth – we definitely plan to grow more dramatically this year.

As Managing Director of Parsec (Pty) Ltd, what is your vision for the company going forward?

Winning the award for Best Company to work for makes you think a little bit further. One can set targets and this all sounds very good. However, at the end of the day, one needs to think more about the people in the company. I see revenue and profit as a by-product of really creating a pleasant workplace for our people. A company needs a solid strategy, as well as a solid brand, so yes, growth and more profit is on the table, but I prefer not to say chasing growth at all costs as that can become a very hard and dangerous measurement on its own.