Interview Steve Barber (Acting CEO, Sepura) at Critical Communications World 2018

During CCW 2018 in Berlin this year, Gert Jan Wolf spoke with Steve Barber, currently Acting CEO for Sepura. I was intrigued as to why the company had a separate booth at the exhibition, given that the other companies recently acquired by Hytera were jointly presented on the Hytera booth. During our chat we discussed sensitivities around the new owners and the future of the Sepura brand.

Gert Jan Wolf: I noticed here at CCW that Sepura has a separate booth and is not fully integrated within the Hytera booth like Teltronic and Norsat. Does that mean that Sepura is still an independent company?

Steve Barber: Yes, we act as an independent company as we need to, because of the undertakings that we have given to the UK government. That really means for our customers that there is no change – they deal with the same Sepura staff and we still produce the same products. We do have a presence on the Hytera booth and our staff there are demonstrating our TETRA terminals and accessories to many customers during the event.

At the same time, we do have a lot of public safety and government customers that are very sensitive about who they speak to and who else is around when they are discussing requirements. On this basis we felt it was better to have a separate base that allows us to speak freely with our customers and gives them confidence in who they are speaking to.

Gert Jan Wolf: Are these customers from all over the world, or are these customers from specific countries that may have particular sensitivities?

Steve Barber: So obviously, many of our western European customers, those from organisations within the Middle East and some of our Asian users are very sensitive in terms of the suppliers that they choose to work with. We have to provide very strict NDA’s with these organisations, and the fact that we work with security services and their cryptographic requirements means that they are often very sensitive to dealing with anyone apart from the key supplier in any of their conversations.

Gert Jan Wolf: How do you foresee the future? Will this change at any time soon?

Steve Barber: I don’t expect it to change at all. If you look at the Sepura brand at this moment in time it is very strong. We have grown the business again, we make a good product and none of our customers have deserted us since the acquisition by Hytera. So actually I do not see any reason at all to change given the strengths of our brand within public safety.

Obviously we would like to improve the strength of the Hytera brand; Hytera has a wide range of products -including solutions for LTE and DMR - and the good thing is that we now also have a wider portfolio at our fingertips. The long term plan is to bring those products into our portfolio and sell them to our customers as part of the usual Sepura offering of robust, reliable, secure solutions.

Gert Jan Wolf: So Sepura for Public Safety will stay an independent brand?

Steve Barber: Correct!


About Steve Barber

Steve was a founding employee of Sepura in 2002. He initially managed the company's portfolio of TETRA products, later expanding his role as VP Strategy, encompassing management of TETRA interoperability and standardisation across the whole group. He was appointed Acting Chief Executive Officer of Sepura in June 2017.

Steve has more than 25 years' experience in the analogue and digital PMR industry and over 13 years in digital fixed line communications. Prior to joining Sepura, Steve held a variety of senior technical, operational and sales positions at Simoco, ACIS, GEC-Marconi and British Telecom.