Bright Spark

The Maser Group

Today he has over 50 staff with offices in Australia, New Zealand and the UK whilst he resides in Sydney – but travels extensively to attend exhibitions and conventions to ensure he keeps up with the fast moving trends in high-tech telecommunications.

After emigrating to Auckland NZ in 1979, Gareth Jones’ first job across the Tasman was managing NZ’s leading post-production company. In 1983, “I then became what you might call a middle-man, after having been a manufacturer and a customer,” he explains, as the company took on distributorships for a number of leading brands. The company was called Maser (derived from an acronym which stands for Microwave Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation) and, thirty years later, it has a very different look about it.

Gareth says the evolution of the mobile phones industry presented a new direction for the company. Opportunities in the broadcast market were “diminishing at just the time when the telecommunications industry began to boom.” These days Maser counts the likes of Telstra, Vodafone (now VHA) and Optus as its key customers. They in turn have obliged by outsourcing some or, in the case of New Zealand, almost all of the responsibility for equipment and infrastructure while they concentrate on retailing and marketing to increase the customer base. Gareth says Maser is a small cog in a big machine, operating in a kind of specialised space below that of the major telecoms suppliers – multinational companies for whom a hundred-million-dollar project is small. “The operating companies like Optus are looking for the next generation of products and for new ideas to help them connect people. Maser’s role is to “find these products and bring the products to them.”

Continually looking to evolve and grow its business in the high tech sector, Maser has recently added the Defence industry as a future key market – with an extensive product range which now includes “battlespace communications solutions, soldier systems, maritime solutions, and satellite comms.”

It also retains its sales of electronic cables to the industrial and commercial sectors including electrical wholesalers. This latter end of the business is diminishing in importance as the world goes wireless, although Maser’s market niche is in the more expensive and value-added speciality cabling (“the key question is always: ‘have you got it in stock and how much is it?’”) that it imports mainly from Europe; the kind of high end product that is not available from low-cost Asian markets.

The big difference between the cable business and the other telecoms products, that Maser offers, is the speed of change. Cable technology hasn’t changed much while the rest of the telecommunications market has evolved at a dizzying pace. In addition, high-tech products need support, while cabling generally doesn’t. “There is a trend towards more wireless, but there is still a lot of cable around, although it is more specialist rather than the broad range.” Wireless is more popular but easier to hack into. “If you need good, clean communications, cable – copper or fibre – is still very much in demand.”

Maser’s product range is a difficult one to sum up. It offers a wide range of “market leading telecommunications solutions” including RF access[eg Kathrein antennas] and management, network assurance, network optimisation, converged voice, cyber security[eg Procera] and bandwidth optimisation. With a growing and experienced team, the company prides itself on specialist skills and services to help its clients achieve their objectives including pre and post sales technical support, training, project management, commissioning and logistics. Across Australia, New Zealand and the South Pacific, the objective is to introduce clients to the latest cutting edge technology available in the world.

Maser is structured as five largely autonomous companies, each with its own general manager. There are offices in NZ (Auckland, Christchurch and Wellington), Australia (Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane), and in the UK, covering Europe and Ireland.

At this stage, the NBN (National Broadband Network) is not a very exciting prospect for Maser and Gareth likens it to a major motorway. “We don’t supply the tarmac – others do that. When it gets to the wireless last mile, perhaps we could play a part, but currently we don’t have much business with NBN.”

However, Gareth says the prospects are much brighter (pardon the pun) for LED lighting, especially intelligent systems that can be controlled remotely. “We have probably the world’s leading products, more expensive than traditional lighting but with a payback period of one-and-a-half to two years. A lot of potential for energy saving and ‘green’ installations.” Easy to install and can be deployed in a variety of rugged environments, the highbay LED lighting system for warehousing features smart lights, wirelessly networked and centrally managed, for “unparalleled energy efficiency, complete flexibility, proven reliability and maximum energy savings.”

With the broad range of technological expertise, the watchword for Maser is diversity, both geographically and in terms of market sectors – from cable to telecoms to data traffic and infrastructure. Generally, says Gareth, it’s a question of moving up the technology scale all the time, keeping up with every development in this dynamic sector. Because of that dynamism, it is difficult to predict just where Maser will be in another 30 years but as the rest of the telecoms business continues to climb the technology ladder at a staggering rate that Gareth believes will not slacken, Maser will be climbing right along with it.

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December 19, 2018, 9:24 AM AEDT