In Profile: Andy Tow

By Anita Jaynes on 8 December, 2014

Andy Tow is the newly appointed chief commercial officer of Excalibur Communications, the Swindon based IT and communications for business firm.

Andy’s role is to drive business development and company growth at an exciting time for the company which is set to announce its most successful year of trading ever, with an increase in turnover expected to be £2M.

Andy is a mobile and wireless industry specialist with nearly 30 years experience in the sector, specialising in strategy and business growth. We interviewed Andy to find out more about his career and plans for taking Excalibur to the next level.

How did you start out in the industry?

After leaving university I got my first role at Vodafone.
I was employee number 74 and worked for the company for 16 years. My last appointment at Vodafone was head of indirect sales and prior to that I had held various sales and marketing roles.

What did you do after leaving Vodafone?

I joined a customers board and became a share holder of a company called Adam Phones Limited. As managing director I ran this telecoms business which specialised in short term line rental for high net worth individuals. Our clients were really high profile with a list of household names as customers as well as professionals from the TV and film industries.

Adam Phones also offered a bespoke service delivering replacement phones to clients within an hour’s distance of London. We worked closely with five star hotels in London providing UK sim cards and phones to travellers.

After 6 years at Adam Phones I left the business to work for Unique Distribution Ltd.  I enjoyed this role as it was a great challenge. The company wasn’t in good shape. I salvaged the profitable bit of the company and moved it to Phones International and ran the gauntlet with Dragon’s Den star Peter Jones CBE.

Can you give us a little gem from working with Peter?

The 6 ft 7 inches famous TV personality Peter once signed in to a business we were looking to buy together as “Anon”! He might have got away with it were it not for the stripy socks!

What are your ambitions for Excalibur?

We have a plan to increase our annual growth by 25% each year for the next three to five years by ‘sticking to our knitting’ and hitting targets. We are looking to organically grow our IT and support services, whilst increasing our Vodafone business too.

Excalibur is on track this year (ending January 2015) to be touching on a £9M turnover from £7M the year before. Our ambition is to grow this to a £25M business, this won’t happen overnight, but I’m looking forward to help steer the business in this direction and be part of the company’s ongoing success story.

Excalibur are well known for championing local business, working with local partners and supporting local charities. Will you be looking to continue this in 2015 and beyond?

Of course, this is something I am very passionate about too. We have plans to work closely with Business West to cement relationships across the South West. Our target is to grow our business within an hour’s drive of our offices in Swindon and Bristol.

Excalibur’s dedication for supporting local charities will not wain either. Giving something back to the local community is an important part of our company ethos.

Can you share with us your top tip for business success?

Keep it really simple. Develop and implement a strategy all your colleagues can understand and see clearly what their role in achieving it is.

What are Excalibur’s predictions for the technology and telecoms markets in 2015?

Customers will be keener than ever to use the best available communications tools to help them advance their business. Increased connectivity through 4G will further enhance how they manage their own operations and how they can offer more to their market places.

Solutions are set to become even more varied.  Whilst this will ultimately provide sizeable benefits when the correct systems are in place, it means that solutions will become even more complex.

With mobile working set to become even easier, the demand for a single supplier will be all the more logical.  Already we’re beginning to see companies looking to offer extra services as they try to present a more all encompassing offer, but many are perhaps setting themselves up for a fall.  Establishing a foolproof customer journey requires a serious investment in the right people and right systems to become that true service provider.  Merely doffing your cap in the general direction of this claim or hiding behind your ‘tardis-like’ website isn’t going to work.  Those firms trying to set themselves up as something they’re not will soon find that their increasingly savvy customers, who have critical communications needs, will see right through them.

Tablets will continue to outsell PCs and this will see IT companies getting a little hotter under the collar as tablets with SIM cards become viewed as more of a communications device.  Likewise, comms businesses will feel further threatened by the mobile becoming seen as more and more of an IT device.

Whilst Nokia’s B2B should significantly increase in 2015, there will be a reduction in resellers.  It’s not impossible to manage a supply chain of course, but by its very nature, a giant product portfolio makes it difficult to focus and ever tougher to offer a decent customer experience.  I’d like to think that 2015 will see an end to the cowboys who don’t care about that decent customer experience, but like all industries, there are a few out there who can’t see beyond those £££ signs rolling around in their eyes.

If there was one character in history you would like to meet, who would it be and why?

Winston Churchill – an incredibly clear thinker with a razor sharp wit!

How will you be celebrating Christmas and the new year?

At home. Though with two small children it’ll be anything but quiet!