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Van Ausdall & Farrar has been a valued Toshiba phone system partner for over 25 years. It came to a great shock to us when on March 21, 2017, Toshiba notified its customers and dealers that, as part of its continued global restructuring, it would be winding down its unified communications business. To put it bluntly, that was a major kick in the pants for both VA&F and our 600+ active Toshiba customers.

Just as that was starting to sink in and VA&F prepared for the impact of that news on our customers, the following was announced: On May 11, 2017, Mitel and Toshiba signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) where Mitel would acquire certain Toshiba assets, inventory, and support obligations associated with its unified communications business.

With that announcement, we began to see light at the end of what was at the time, a very bleak tunnel for our Toshiba business. VA&F knows Mitel. We were a Mitel partner throughout the 80’s and 90’s. Since that time, a new Mitel has emerged.

First, Mitel acquired InterTel in 2007. Rather than retiring the InterTel product line, Mitel embraced the product and all the customers that came with it. Thousands of customers continue to utilize the InterTel product today as it continues to be researched and developed under its new name, Mitel MiVoice Office.

In January of 2014, Mitel acquired Aastra. Before Mitel’s acquisition of the company, Aastra was a middling player in the European market. Once again, Mitel embraced the product rather than retire it. Mitel now enjoys #1 telecom market share in Europe as a result.

Hopefully, you see a pattern. Mitel’s tagline could easily be “Make the installed base happy and make good products and companies we buy even better.” A bit too long, I know. But, hopefully you get the point.

So, here’s what Mitel has already announced in regard to their plans for the Toshiba CIX and IPedge product line:

  • It’s business as usual for Toshiba customers and partners. Continue to follow the same processes that exist today with respect to service, support and fulfillment for Toshiba products
  • Any changes will be communicated well in advance
  • To ensure continuity of service for Toshiba customers, many key Toshiba employees in sales, support and R&D roles have already joined Mitel.
  • Mitel will honor existing warranties
  • Mitel has secured continued manufacturing of new Toshiba systems and associated hardware.

Based upon these facts, we have a much brighter outlook for Toshiba customers versus Toshiba’s “winding down operations” announcement made in May. VA&F will have the products and support our Toshiba customers will need for the foreseeable future. And to assure we have full access to these resources, VA&F is officially becoming a Mitel Authorized Dealer.

I started with Van Ausdall & Farrar in 1992. At that time, Toshiba and Mitel were our primary product offerings. The more things change, the more they stay the same.

Now regarding Mitel’s acquisition of ShoreTel ……

While Toshiba has continued to be a vital component of our business, ShoreTel has emerged as our enterprise-class IP PBX offering for the past 11 years. We currently support over 150 ShoreTel customers with over 22,000 endpoints being supported. We are the only ShoreTel Gold Partner headquartered in Indiana. Ever. Generally speaking, our ShoreTel customers are larger (compared to Toshiba), multi-site deployments averaging well over 100 extensions. We have many customers with thousands of extensions. In July 2017, Mitel announced its intention to acquire ShoreTel. Mitel completed its acquisition of ShoreTel on September 25, 2017.

Based upon our recent experience with how Mitel has managed its acquisition of Toshiba (and its earlier acquisitions of InterTel and Aastra several years before), we didn’t feel the need to panic. With a little over a week under our belt as a Mitel Dealer, I can already say with great confidence that our relaxed composure with this announcement was well-founded.

Rich McBee, President & CEO of Mitel, has already made the following statements:

“The ShoreTel platform for the SMB segment (10-5000 users) is a strong offering and we welcome the opportunity to expand the Mitel product portfolio with this solution.”

“Mitel is committed to continuing to invest and support the ShoreTel Cloud UC Solution. It is our strategy to retain these customers by continuing to deliver a high level of service and to invest to expand the collaboration capabilities of these cloud offerings.”

And finally ….

“Any customer committing to the ShoreTel or Mitel solution today will be protected and able to leverage the increased investment in collaboration solutions of the combined company.”

I think Mitel’s intentions are clear. Again, Mitel’s tagline could easily be “Make the installed base happy and make good products and companies we buy even better.”

Better yet, Mitel has consolidated our product offering for us by acquiring both Toshiba and ShoreTel. By merging our sales and technical certifications and other requirements into one large partner, VA&F will most certainly be more streamlined as a company. One training academy versus two. The consolidation of marketing development funds. One business plan and reporting structure. All of this leads to operational savings and improvements. Ultimately, all of these efficiencies we will most assuredly gain will positively impact the final product we deliver and the only result that matters, which is excellent customer service.

You will find that many of our ShoreTel and Toshiba competitors panicked; picking up additional vendors and product lines to fill a particular void. This adds complexity and cost to any business, let alone a highly technical one. I’m confident we made the right decision. I hope you are too.

If you’d like to learn more about Mitel and their plans for the future, Phil Edholm, President and Founder of PKE Consulting, wrote a fantastic article for no jitter, which you will find here:

https://www.nojitter.com/whats-next-mitel

In the meantime, we’d be delighted to have a conversation with you in regard to unified communications. Whether you’re evaluating an on-premise or cloud solution, we’ve got you covered.

Regards,
Trent Smith
VP, Converged Communications
Van Ausdall & Farrar, Inc.