How two brothers made their mark on the Aussie unified comms market

How two brothers made their mark on the Aussie unified comms market

The story behind MIA Distribution's rise in the local unified communications market.

L-R: Brad Milne, Matt Milne (MIA Distribution)

L-R: Brad Milne, Matt Milne (MIA Distribution)

Credit: Supplied

It's been more than 10 years since Brad Milne, co-owner and managing director of MIA Distribution, came to Australia from his native South Africa and started a business with a laser focus on the local communications technology market — a strategy that has paid off.

Last year saw MIA Distribution (the acronym stands for Multi Industry Applications) celebrate a decade of successfully scaling and building its distribution business in Australia.   

The niche unified communications (UC) distribution specialist started out as PABX Warehouse, a small telephony peripherals supplier based in the Sydney suburb of Brookvale. The move came after Milne got the opportunity to distribute a product by Siemens called Gigaset.

A couple of years after the business first kicked off, Milne was joined by his brother Matt, who came to Australia from South Africa to help him in the management of the company.  

The company rebranded to MIA Distribution in 2015 when its strategy transitioned from a wholesale model to a pure distribution model, with the company significantly increasing its vendor acquisition – focusing on the UC market in particular.   

“Around 2015, with some partner and vendors, we began to get more of a name for ourselves,” Matt Milne told ARN. “More vendors wanted to chat with us and we got a lot more partners on board. The market shift to hosted telephony happened around then too, so partners were a lot happier to chat to us from then on.”

Milne, who is sales director at the company, as well as co-owner along with his brother Brad, said it was around this time that MIA Distribution started getting into the provisioning space, in addition to providing hardware.  

“A lot of partners didn’t have that capability,” Matt Milne said. “It was still mainly the hardware distribution at that stage, but the provisioning services were a sweetener for carriers and ITSPs [internet telephony service providers].”

It was clear from the beginning that the UC space would be where the company focused its energies.  

“We definitely saw a niche in this unified communications space,” Milne said. “Not a lot of disties were focusing on that area, so we decided to stick to that space.”

As it turns out, this was probably a good call.  

Today, MIA Distribution services over 3,500 active resellers, managed service providers MSPs, telcos, ITSPs and carrier partners in Australia.   

The company has at least 13 global hardware and software vendors that it represents and it continues to grow market presence and revenue year-on-year.   

It should be noted that the company’s growth to date has been entirely organic, with the two Milne brothers owning the company jointly.  

From Matt Milne’s perspective, the company’s success in the local UC space has been a case of “right place, right time,” with the market growing rapidly in the decade since the company’s founding.

According to Milne, sticking to the UC niche in a market landscape that has seen cloud calling technology adopted far and wide, while analogue telephony services have become more and more redundant, has paid off.  

"We were well set up at that time to capture that market,” he said.  

With the onset of COVID-19 and the resulting rush to remote work, the company has seen a further significant surge in the uptake of software solutions in the UC space. Indeed, this is where the company has seen the biggest growth over the past two years.  

At the same time, demand for hardware, specifically peripheral devices to support UC platforms, has “gone through the roof,” a trend that MIA Distribution has not been able to fully capitalise on thanks to the ongoing supply chain issues resulting from the pandemic.  

Regardless, business on both fronts has been surging.  

“We’re seeing massive growth,” Milne said, noting that he expects on-premises telephony demand to be overtaken by cloud calling demand in the Australian market this year – a trend that has seen hosted telephony rise from a single digit percentage of the company's business to over 50 per cent in roughly 10 years.  

“That’s a lot of growth.”  

MIA Distribution’s success factors, according to Milne, have been an unrelenting focus on UC and a drive to remain vendor agnostic.  

“We’ll work with anyone as long as it’s relevant,” he said.  

And the growth trajectory isn’t over yet.  

“We’re still riding this wave of [UC] growth and we still want to capitalise on it. There’s still a lot of room for growth,” Milne said. “So, we want to continue being that specialist UC distie that works with everyone, that our resellers and partners can trust to just get it done.”

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