The soft-spoken Toronto native, who did not finish college, worked his way up the telecommunications industry the hard way for 34 years, moving multiple times with both Canadian and American-owned companies. He began his career in the sales department of the pay-phone group at Bell Canada.
“I had the best training in the world,” Perry said. “There isn’t anything I have not been involved with in the telecommunications and data communications industry.
In 2002, Perry and long-time friend and colleague David Weymouth co-founded Optelian to design, manufacture and sell optical networks. The company offers customized optical solutions that enable telecom, multi-service operator, utility and enterprise customers to expand their fiber capacity so they can increase revenue and cost-effectiveness.
“We did not use any angel or investment money,” said Perry. “We actually started in the garage. It’s all been organic growth.”
Weymouth leads the Canadian operations and manufacturing in Ontario, while Perry leads the American and Asia Pacific operations, plus the sales, marketing and service departments from the Marietta office on New Market Parkway near Cobb Parkway, where it has been since 2010. In January, the company will triple its space to 15,000 square feet in the same building to provide room for training and staging of its networks.
The company was originally located off of Franklin Road.
The company’s flagship product is LightGAIN optical carrier systems, which contain a building-block-like architecture. The optical-network functions and system intelligence are packaged in standardized “plug and play” modules that allow the network designs to be custom configured.
Perry says it is the software inside the box that is the most important.
“Sixty percent of our research and development goes into that software,” he said.
To date, the company has designed and installed 19,000 systems and more than 328,000 wavelengths. Optelian’s 175 clients include broadband, wireless and fixed line providers such as AT&T, Windstream, Comcast, Bell Canada, several of the large telecom and utilities companies in North America; as well as universities, military and government operations.
Although Perry will not divulge sales numbers, he said that 2011 revenues grew by 200 percent and that the company will be adding one to two employees a month for the foreseeable future. But he says this success was not the case when they started the company. After the Sept. 11,2001 terrorist attacks, they struggled for three years to get the company off the ground.
“It was like nuclear winter,” said Perry. “Major service providers turned the tap off. If we could get through those years, we could get through anything.”
Deloitte & Touche LLP, recently named Optelian to the North American Technology Fast 500 list. Perry said that for philosophical reasons, he and his partner never plan to take the company public. The company has 190 employees, with 35 of those located in United States.
“Our product is so much more comprehensive than 10 years ago,” said Perry. “We have quadrupled the product line five times as a result of the new technology.”
Jim Hendrickson, vice-president of Georgia Public Web and an Optelian customer, describes Perry as committed, trusted and loyal.
“This loyalty drives him to meet commitments and lead by example. ... It also drives him to bring more innovative solutions to market in order to help his customers succeed in a very competitive telecom services landscape and to help his team succeed in an equally competitive hardware sales landscape.”