VARBusiness 500 Profiles: The Cream of the Crop


Profile trio of the No. 1 company, fastest grower and list newcomer


3. NEW TO THE LIST: FISHNET

Gary Fish keeps a Post-It note on his monitor with one word written on it: "Overcommunicate." That's one of his mantras--to keep staffers in the loop--as his company, FishNet Security (VARBusiness 500 No. 186), grows into a big fish in the security pond.

What started in 1996 in a basement has grown into a $139 million company with 50-plus vendor partners. Those manufacturers, including security bigwigs Check Point Software Technologies, Secure Computing and Blue Coat Systems, give FishNet glowing reviews, citing the Kansas City, Mo.-based VAR as one of their best and brightest.

As far as Check Point's Mike Valkar is concerned, FishNet has a big-business mentality and makes no bones about it.

"A lot of VARs out there treat themselves as small businesses," says Valkar, area manager for the Midwest at Check Point. "They have an owner, an accountant and a sales team. They don't have the internal mechanisms in place to work as a company with all wheels spinning at once. FishNet has a clear management hierarchy--a controller, a CIO. They have the structure they need to achieve their goals."

Just last month, San Jose, Calif.-based Secure Computing honored FishNet with its National Partner of the Year Award. Vendor execs say the partnership with FishNet has yielded sales growth of 50 percent year-over-year for Secure Computing.

"They have a national range and reach for sales and support that's unmatched by any other VAR," says Jay Chaudhry, vice chairman at Secure Computing. "Also, their focus on security has provided them deep expertise."

And FishNet's been nothing if not consistent; in fact, the VAR's been on a roll since the very beginning, growing revenue organically about 38 percent year-over-year since its inception. Now Fish is concentrating on spackling--filling holes in the company's knowledge base and geographical coverage area.

The VAR put down a stake on the West Coast last March when it bought SiegeWorks, a security player specializing in application security, and established an office in Livermore, Calif. Several months later, FishNet bought Virginia-based True North.

Fish is still casting his nets, looking for more fast swimmers to complement the VAR's portfolio. Target companies will be security specialists in areas where FishNet's presence is minimal. Also, he's getting ready to launch a managed service practice and eyeing niche markets that "touch the applications we're securing," Fish says.

For now, that's a lot of fish to fry.