William J. Weiner, president of Precision Auto Designs, a Campbell, California, mail order company specializing in high-end automobile accessories and parts, wanted to sell his wares on the Web in order to expand into new markets, cut catalog production costs and keep up with his competitors. Originally, he had a friend with graphics experience take on the project, but the initial results were not what he'd envisioned. So Weiner turned to Thresher Communications & Productivity, a networking consulting firm and computer reseller in San Jose, California, to get the job done.
"For a small company, this is a big-company kind of offering," says Weiner, 52. "This time around, we wanted to try it with the best team."
Turning to a computer reseller was a smart decision in Weiner's case because his needs were relatively complex. More than just creating a site that takes orders electronically, Weiner also wanted to host the Web site in-house. This would allow him to retain more control and give him the flexibility to test-market products and post weekly newsletters, he says.
To accomplish Weiner's goals, Thresher Communications' owner, John Nickel, first helped him choose the appropriate technology from Cisco Systems Inc.'s Networked Office product line, including a 1605-R Dual Ethernet router, a Micro Web server 200 and a 1500 series Micro Hub (10baseT), so his staff could access the Web server and log on to the Internet. Then Nickel helped him choose an ISP and eventually installed the equipment.
"I wouldn't have gotten this far [without a reseller]," says Weiner. "A lot of small companies [like mine] don't understand the intricacies of hosting a Web site. And if they don't have someone they can count on, they won't succeed."
Of course, all this service comes with a price. "It's expensive," admits Weiner. "But, as a small-business owner, I need to take that risk because it's still affordable and the return should be the best."