Dimension Data, one of the giants of the South African IT industry, celebrated its 25th birthday yesterday.
A quarter of a century ago, four young men – Werner Sievers, Kevin Hamilton, Peter Neale and Jeremy Ord – got together to form a networking company that would grow into a $3-billion global giant.
"Our goals were were comparatively simple, we wanted to do great things and we wanted to have fun," chairman and founder Jeremy Ord writes in the preface to a book commemorating the group's 25th birthday.
"With the benefit of hindsight, I can honestly say that we exceeded our every dream beyond our wildest imagination. We never for a moment considered the destinations that Dimension Data would reach during the journey; many milestones and firsts that are truly amazing and that we are very proud of achieving."
About a year after it was formed, the Dimension Data founders were joined by Bruce Watson and Richard Came.
In 1987, Dimension Data decided to list on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange, which happened on 15 July that year and raised R7,5-million.
One of the highlights of the company's history was its appointment, in 1991, as the official distributor for Cisco in South Africa.
In the latter part of the 1990s, the company went on an international acquisition trail, buying 45% of Australian company ComTech in 1996, finally buying out completely in 2000.
Dimension Data followed this with the acquisition of 51% of Datacraft, giving it a foothold in the Asian market.
Looking to the UK, Dimension Data bought a 49,9% stake in Chernikeep in 1999, buying the rest of the company in 2000.
On the home front, the company acquired a number of cabling companies, some manufacturing companies and a group of software companies, including Systems Programming Limited (SPL), which continued to operate as SPL for number years following the acquisition.
In 1996, it also bought a 25% share of The Internet Solution (now Internet Solutions). That year it also formed a joint venture company, OmniLink, with Nedbank.
On 31 July 2000, Dimension Data listed on the London Stock Exchange and raised $1,25-billion.
The company also bought a US organisation, Proxicom, late in the 1990s, just as the IT market was entering a downturn.
Dimension Data survived the so-called dot-bomb era and is once again growing and prosperous.