Annapolis Small Business Fawcett Boat Supplies Wins Microsoft and Dell Technology Prize Package Worth $75,000

ANNAPOLIS, Md., Jan. 20, 2005 — Microsoft Corp. and Dell today awarded the owners of Fawcett Boat Supplies of Annapolis, Md., the first of two grand prizes from a national Microsoft
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small business technology makeover contest. Fawcett Boat Supplies was chosen from among 195 national entries to receive up to $75,000 worth of Dell hardware and Microsoft software, along with local IT consulting services from RelianceNet IT Experts to assist in its business analysis, technology design, installation and training.

“Fawcett Boat Supplies is a terrific example of an American small business dedicated to delivering the best for its customers and community,” said Reed Overfelt, general manager for the Mid-Atlantic Small and Midmarket business group at Microsoft. “With the technology to specifically address its business needs, Fawcett is set on a course to take its business to the next level. This program is one way Microsoft is helping demonstrate the value technology can bring to smaller companies.”

As a leading provider of technology and services to businesses of all sizes, Dell views this award as a reflection of the company’s commitment to the small-business market. “Dell holds fast to its small-business beginnings and is eager to help others reach the next level of success through smart investments in technology,” said Frank Muehleman, general manager of the Small and Medium Business Segment at Dell. “With this makeover, Fawcett Boat Supplies will continue to grow, and the benefits realized will stand as a testament to our focus and impact on this market.”

The winner, voted Favorite Boating Supply Store by Chesapeake Bay Magazine readers for the past four years, has supplied sailors and boatyards with advice and yachting equipment since 1948. Fawcett Boat Supplies offers more than 20,000 items to more than 8,000 retail and 5,000 commercial customers across the United States and the Caribbean. The technology makeover is designed to continue the company’s success by improving employee communication, data and hardware sharing, information security, and Internet access.

“Technology will literally revolutionize our business; we’ll go from zero to 60 in a blink of an eye,” said Steve Ripley, co-president and owner of Fawcett Boat Supplies with his brother Tom. “The biggest impact can literally be expressed in one word: collaboration. This makeover will enable employees to collaborate more efficiently and effectively, internally and with our customers.”

“We have great employees and one of the most rewarding aspects of winning is seeing their excitement and knowing the impact it will have on making their jobs easier,” Tom Ripley added.

As part of the nomination process for the contest, Microsoft Certified Partners across the country identified business pains faced by their clients along with potential technology solutions. A panel of Microsoft and Dell representatives judged the entries and selected a winner that was most representative of issues common to small businesses and would benefit most from a technology transformation.

Fawcett Boat Supplies was nominated for the makeover by Microsoft Certified Partner RelianceNet IT Experts of Annapolis. RelianceNet CEO Pat Cooley worked with the Ripleys to envision a solution to their business problem to improve record-keeping, system reliability and customer support. With a compelling solution in hand, the team worked to craft the winning entry, and together they will implement the retailer’s technology makeover in the next few months.

“We immediately recognized how technology would accelerate Fawcett’s ability to achieve its business goals. Working with the Ripleys, we helped to assess their requirements and nominate them for the makeover. The RelianceNet team is thrilled to work with Fawcett’s to develop a long-term IT strategy to enable its business goals, as well as provide on-going support,” said Pat Cooley, CEO of RelianceNet IT Experts.

About the Microsoft U.S. Small and Midmarket Solutions & Partners Group

The Microsoft U.S. Small and Midmarket Solutions & Partners group works to help ensure that small-business owners have the tools, technology and support they need to reach their business potential in today’s competitive marketplace. More information is available on the Web at http://www.microsoft.com/smallbusiness .

About Microsoft

Founded in 1975, Microsoft (Nasdaq “MSFT”) is the worldwide leader in software, services and solutions that help people and businesses realize their full potential.

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