Navantis nabs ex-Microsoft Canada chief

An Ontario solution provider is hoping to become a national player with the help of former Microsoft Canada president Frank Clegg.Clegg has become chairman and a director of Navantis Inc., a Toronto-based Microsoft Gold partner with a staff of 100. 
It ranked 72nd in Computer Dealer News’ Top 100 Solution Providers in 2004, with revenues of less than $15 million.
But company president Jason Martin said Clegg’s experience with Microsoft and his industry knowledge will help Navantis grow into a national VAR and keep its revenues growing at 30 per cent a year.
“When Frank announced (in December 2004) he was stepping away from Microsoft Canada we approached him and suggested he leverage his experience and help us grow for our next quantum leap,” said Martin.
Their talks intensified at the end of the summer, he said, with the official announcement made last month.
The news is a surprise, because Clegg said he was only taking a leave of absence to spend more time with his family and would be back with Microsoft last September.
But in an interview after the announcement Clegg said going back would have meant taking a posting outside North America, which his family opposed. Clegg’s roots here include a farm near the city.
In considering other offers, he also realized he didn’t want day-to-day operational responsibility for a company.
So when the principals of Navantis approached, he listened.
“I’ve known Jason and John (Kvasnic, the CEO) pretty well since they started Navantis. They – I should say we – have a very strong team, and a very good customer base. And I think there’s an opportunity to help us grow to the next level in terms of sophistication and go-to-market, the complex solutions we’re going to build.”
He dismissed a suggestion that having three presidents in two years will be hard on Microsoft Canada staff, saying he knows incoming president Phil Sorgen well. “This transition will be very smooth.”
While Navantis is also an IBM and Oracle partner, Martin estimated that 85 per cent of the seven-year-old company’s business is Microsoft-related.
“Right now we operate pretty much in the GTA (Greater Toronto Area) . . . but we’ve never actively gone after that national market before,” he said.
“So what you’re going to see from us over the next three years is new offerings, new messaging around some of the verticals we service in government, corporate and financial services and you’re going to see us move into more nationally-focused jobs.”
That could mean Navantis would either open offices in other provinces or acquire or merge with other VARs, Martin said.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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Howard Solomon
Howard Solomon
Currently a freelance writer, I'm the former editor of ITWorldCanada.com and Computing Canada. An IT journalist since 1997, I've written for several of ITWC's sister publications including ITBusiness.ca and Computer Dealer News. Before that I was a staff reporter at the Calgary Herald and the Brampton (Ont.) Daily Times. I can be reached at hsolomon [@] soloreporter.com

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