Mitel Taps Tektronix Exec McBee as New CEO

by Matt Klassen on January 17, 2011

While Mitel’s slogan is officially “Simply Communicating,” over this past year the fading telecommunication company’s slogan could easily have been “Simply Struggling,” as the Ottawa-based Internet communications company has seen its revenues steadily decline in the face of stiff competition from the likes of Cisco and Avaya.

In a report issued by Mitel this past weekend, however, it looks like the company has tasked former Tektronix Inc (a subsidiary of Danaher Corp) executive Richard McBee with righting the Mitel ship and finally establishing it as a force to be reckoned with in the North America Internet-based telecommunications market.

But is this too little too late for a company that has seen its share plummet nearly 60 percent in the last nine (9) months, from $12.75 in April 2010 when the company went public to a closing price of $5.14 this past Thursday? Is McBee really capable of saving Mitel from disaster?

There’s no question that Richard McBee is a seasoned veteran of the telecommunications industry, having led Danaher Corps’ communication and enterprise division, where, as the Wall Street Journal reports, “he handled annual sales from carrier, enterprise and server-message-block communications markets.”

While its obvious that McBee has the right qualifications to establish the Mitel brand in the VoIP and Unified Communications markets, it remains to be seen whether he can achieve any success with the struggling company.

Although some may think this is a move to get fresh blood into the company, the truth is that current CEO Don Smith is set to retire, having announced his intention to do so back in September. But his retirement may come as a blessing for Mitel, as under his leadership the company has seen little success and plenty of disappointment.

But what exactly is Mitel’s problem in the current telecommunications market? As a company specializing in VoIP and unified communication solutions, Mitel finds itself in a highly competitive market, and as our intrepid leader Jeff Wiener noted earlier this month, Mitel seems to lack the requisite competitive drive to really capture the Internet communications market currently dominated by the likes of Cisco.

Simply put, Mitel lacks the aggressive marketing strategy, the competitive price points, and the sales force needed to woe potential customers, an issue that will hopefully be resolved with the appointment of McBee as Mitel’s top dog. While the future still looks bleak for a company that has consistently underwhelmed telecommunication analysts across the continent, perhaps adding new blood and new leadership will finally take Mitel places it has long dreamt of going.

With McBee tasked with gaining significant market share one thing is abundantly clear though, he can’t really screw up Mitel anymore than it is now, meaning there’s really no where to go but up; a fact that will no doubt still come as cold comfort to Mitel’s worried investors.

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