Paul Kawtal, the chief executive of Australian technology and telecommunications firm Ethan Group, is almost embarrassed to admit it, but the COVID-19 pandemic has been pretty good for business so far.
His company has largely flown under the radar for the past two decades as a success story in the local market, riding the wave of telecommunications advances and cloud computing, but its services in keeping medium-sized organisations connected could hardly be more in demand as Australia collectively works from home.
Kawtal says that early last month the company started to see a huge increase in in-bound enquiries, which he quantified as a 120 per cent climb in clients looking for help setting up remotely managed teleworking, including video conferencing, collaboration software, and remote access tools.
"We're a mature business and we wouldn't see the virus as a reason to scale our business, but we definitely have seen the investments that we've made in the last 10 years set us up for success," he says.
"It's dumped in our lap this type of growth because companies really need an IT company. But we're not here to profiteer. For example, we've given away free trials for WebEx to get customers up and running without the installation cost so they can get through this period."
It has relatively low profile amid a noisy local tech sector, because it hasn't needed to seek the limelight. It is comfortably profitable, and has never needed external venture funding, or to entertain the drama of a public listing.
The latest financial reports lodged with the Australian Securities and Investments Commission were for 2018, showing it had revenue of $191.5 million (up from $177 million the previous year) and profit of $1.5 million (down from $3 million the previous year.)
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