New executive to take aim at making the company more visible.
By Suzanne Deffree
CRM software vendor FrontRange Solutions Inc. Monday will announce the appointment of Patrick Bultema as CEO and president. Bultema, a 15-year CRM veteran and most recently president of consultancy The Bultema Company, will succeed Dana Buys, who will remain chairman of the board for FrontRange and CEO of South Africa-based Ixchange Ltd.
In the role, Bultema will take aim at making FrontRange "much more visible" in the marketplace. He plans to accomplish that through partnering, sales, and marketing efforts, using the company's 2,000-plus member reseller channel as a fully active part of the outward exposure. "If you don't have a very strong channel, you're dead in the water," says Bultema, noting that the company plans on continually adding more resellers and developers, its main revenue driver.
Asserting that extra features and complexities on some CRM products can increase customer cost and confusion, Bultema has special interest in the midmarket, which he claims is just at the beginning of adoption and is looking for "cleaner solutions." Buys seconds that, pointing to FrontRange's lower price points. "People are looking for more affordable solutions that they can get moving quickly."
According to Buys, the shift was mutually decided among the board, himself and then consultant Bultema as the right step toward eliminating duplication and affecting change. "We felt someone like Pat would be agile to moving the company forward," Buys says.
FrontRange partners have a cautiously optimistic outlook on the news. "I think that anytime there's a change in management, there's a little nervousness," says Kimberly Cromwell, president of Cromwell and Associates, a systems integrator based in Fremont, Calif. However, she notes that FrontRange needs to keep moving forward in a market she calls "typically confused." "They're visible, but there needs to be more product differentiation.... Most people know GoldMine and Heat, but not FrontRange."
Those close to the company aren't overly concerned about the c-level change. "We've seen more leads [from FrontRange] in the last 60 days than we have in the last six months.... Sales have been tough, but we're seeing that turn around." She adds that for that to continue, FrontRange needs to keep up its past momentum, which she credits largely to Buys' leadership. "I'm counting on that savvyness in the future," she says.
Despite the economic downturn, Bultema remains optimistic. "Although this may be a tight economic environment, we're very enthusiastic, somewhat in contrast to others in the marketplace."
FrontRange expects the official handover to Bultema by the end of December 2001.