Alain Bourdeau, Key Account Director, and Guy DeBlois, Director of Sales, Health and Public Sector, speak candidly about why they love what they do, as ITI marks careers spanning 27 years for both men. Guy and Alain attribute their staying power to ingenuity and a high regard for human relationships.
At ITI, the long-time friends are known for founding Profex Informatique, the Quebec company that joined forces with ITI in 2009.
Since it was founded in 1994, Profex Informatique quickly emerged as a key player in and around Quebec City. For nearly 10 years the two businessmen were at the helm of the main IT supplier to hospitals from Portneuf to Baie-Saint-Paul.
Creativity driving longevity
Looking back on how far they’ve come, Alain and Guy both agree that the key to staying ahead in a high-octane industry where everything moves very quickly has been a knack for reinventing themselves.
“Listening to our clients has always been the thing that helped us be creative and stand out from the pack. We never sold technology the client didn’t need. Instead, we listened to their concerns and looked for existing solutions that could help meet client requirements. If we couldn’t find just the right thing, we created it,” said Alain.
This is what led Profex Informatique to start offering IT equipment for rental. In hindsight, it’s clear that the firm was a pioneer in the DaaS (Device as a Service) formula we know today! ProFex Informatique also built clones of compatible computers to meet client needs. “We were able to convince local hospitals to install our PFX computers, which we assembled from scratch. In the 2000s we had almost 20,000 devices under management in 14 healthcare facilities. Clients would ask for our equipment by name in tenders,” added Guy, proudly.
To keep moving forward and secure its business model, Profex Informatique even signed a Canadian exclusivity agreement with its motherboard supplier. The result? It became harder for competitors to access the boards, which were a requirement in many tenders.
ITI and Profex Informatique: Joining forces to take on change
Around 2007, the rules of the game began to change for the institutional clients that accounted for the lion’s share of Profex Informatique’s sales. The introduction of centralized government purchasing put enormous pressure on service providers. They now had to meet increasingly strict criteria.
“The new standards made it harder for Profex Informatique to differentiate itself on the basis of specialist certifications. We already knew the folks in charge at ITI. We’d been bumping into them at conventions for years. In a way, we were competitors, but we had different strengths and operated in different markets. After joining forces with ITI, we started ranking first in centralized tenders because we met 13 out of 14 categories,” said Guy.
The newly created company now had the financial wherewithal to open an office in Montreal the following year, and sales skyrocketed.
Mutual trust: A common thread throughout the years
The equipment Guy and Alain sell today is nothing like the products they started out with. Likewise, their relationships with clients have changed over time. These relationships are much more tightly regulated today, but they’re still at the heart of what the two men do and what they bring to the table as directors at ITI.
On the one hand, as an IT expert, you have to get along with the manufacturer to become a trusted partner. On the other hand, maintaining a strong relationship with clients is essential, because ultimately, they are the ones who choose which team they trust to deliver the product.
“As IT solutions become less and less tangible, with cloud computing, for example, a relationship of trust is everything. Clients are more nervous. They don’t fully understand the technology, and on top of that, there is no equipment for them to see. They want partners they know and can trust. That’s why it’s so important for us, as strategic advisors, to build strong relationships,” added Guy.