On the Fast Track

You think the economy has a lot of bumps, twists and turns? Try riding a roller coaster continually-for an hour.

You think the economy has a lot of bumps, twists and turns? Try riding a roller coaster continually—for an hour. Thats what the thrill seekers at Expanets agreed to do, in order for us to capture the eye-popping image on this issues cover.

Solutions providers, vendors and PR pros can learn a lot from Expanets, an integrator that has succeeded in several markets (like Voice-over-IP networking) where other companies have failed.

I met Peter Marquis, Expanets regional director of data solutions, during a July flight to CA World in Orlando, Fla. Marquis is a very technical guy, yet he described Expanets recent customer engagements in basic business terminology.

Whats the potential return on investment for a Voice-over-IP network? What key business factors are limiting Voice over IPs success? Marquis discussed those topics in great detail during our flight—with no guidance from a PR representative and no assistance from a marketing wizard.

People like Marquis are few and far between in this business. I meet roughly 10 to 15 vendors and integrators per week. Many of them launch into lengthy Powerpoint presentations with fancy graphics, detailed product specifications and confusing jargon. My advice: If you cant summarize your business strategy in 15 slides or fewer, youre in the wrong business.

Frankly, Expanets didnt need a single Powerpoint slide to capture my attention. Regional marketing director Christina Allen gave me a quick, big-picture summary of Expanets business, Marquis described a recent customer engagement in vivid detail, and VP of sales Paul Anthony described—with refreshing honesty—how the current economic climate affects Expanets overall business.

Best of all, the Expanets folks know how to have fun. Instead of posing for the usual "head shot" photos you see on so many magazine covers, the Expanets team agreed to jump on a roller coaster for us. By my count, they rode the coaster 10 times in 60 minutes.

At a time when some businesses are turning conservative and others are trying to manipulate the press, its nice to find a company thats willing to endure some scary moments for some well-deserved publicity.