© Terry Matthews Documentary - Success Story, Evan Carmicheal
Sir Terence Hedley Mathews, born June 6, 1943, is a Welsh-Canadian business magnate, serial high-tech entrepreneur, and Wales’ first billionaire. He was the richest man in Wales until 2012 when he was then surpassed by Sir Michael Mortiz. He has founded or funded over 100 companies in the high-tech communications field, most notably Mitel and Newbridge Networks.
Mathews was born in Newport, South Wales, at the then Lydia Beynon Maternity Hospital. Mathews returned as an adult to include the manor house that housed the hospital within the Celtic Manor Resort. He grew up in Newbridge, Caerphilly. He went on to study at Swansea University where he received a bachelor’s degree in electronics in 1969.
After an apprenticeship at British Telecom’s research lab at Martlesham Heath, Matthews left Britain and joined Microsystems international, a chipmaking operation affiliated with Northern Telecom, located in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.
Matthews’ first enterprise was started in collaboration with fellow Briton and Microsystems employee Michael Cowpland in 1972. To raise seed money for future enterprises they had planned, the pair intended to import and sell electric lawnmowers build in the UK. Conventionally, and from accounts by Matthews, the name Mitel is thought to be a contraction of “Mike and Terry Lawnmowers.”
However, Cowpland is quoted as saying it stands for “Mike and Terry Electronics.” The first endeavor faced challenges, the shipping company carrying the first batch lost the container. Once the lawnmowers finally arrived, the ground was covered with snow in the Canadian winter and no one would buy them. Matthews was later quoted saying: “That taught me a key lesson – the importance of timing. The shipping company lost the lawnmowers! By the time they showed up, no one wanted them, as you can’t cut grass when it’s covered with snow.”
Mitel became a technology consultancy company run from home to the various companies around Ottawa’s emerging high-tech district. Hotels clients included the National Research Council, the Communications Research Centre, and a handful of start-ups including SHL Systemhous, which was later purchased by EDS and now is part of HP and Quasar Systems (now Cognos).
Obtaining funding from a $4,000 bank loan, as well as from their own savings and a group of angel investors, the two developed a telephony DTMF tone receiver based on Cowpland’s Ph.D. thesis. This was a major advancement in the technology since were able to sell receivers at a fraction of the cost of competing versions, all while gaining returns of 1000 per cent. Additionally, Mitel later became a chip manufacturer with the acquisition of Silek foundry in Bromont, Quebec.
Later, the pair realized the then new technology of microprocessors and other semiconductor devices would make similar changes in the market for small PBXs. The SX200 PBX launched with immense success, being cheaper to buy, quicker to install, and far more functional. Mitel became one of the more successful manufacturers of small PBX systems and telecom semiconductors in the world, floating the New York Stock Exchange in 1981.
In 1985, British Telecom bought a controlling interest in Mitel. Cowpland would later form the company that became Corel, while Matthews later founded Newbridge Networks.
In 1986, Matthews rove Newbridge to become a leader in the worldwide data networking industry, manufacturing data communication products, particularly ATM devices and routers. In 200, the company employed more than 6,5000 employees a record 1999 revenue of $1.8 billion. Later in 200, Newbridge was acquired by Alcatel for $7.1 billion. Matthews’ personal stake in Newbridge was valued at over one billion dollars. As a result of the transaction, he became the largest single shareholder in Alcatel.
Also in 2000, he reacquired the Mitel PBX business and company name, transitioning it to private. He has heavily invested $600 million by 2006 in Mitel to turn it into a broadband communications company. The company has since made significant investments in enterprise Voice over IP telephony tech. Mite;’s manufacturing business was spun off as BreconRidge. The company acquired Intertel in 2007. Mitel went public again in 2010. Mitel announced the purchase of Aastra Technologies in 2013. Mitel also announced the purchase of Mavenir Systems in 2015. Mitel announced the purchase of Polycom in 2016, however, the deal would fall through and Polycom instead merged with a private equity group, Siris Capital Group. In 2017, they reached a deal to buy Shoretel for $430 million. In 2018, the company announced it would be bought by an investor group led by Searchlight Capital Partners.
Mathews spends a considerable amount of time in his native home of Wales, working on such ventures as Celtic Manor Resort, a leisure complex in Newport near the south Wales coast, which was chosen to host the 2010 Ryder Cup golf tournament and the 2014 NATO summit.
The Celtic Manor hosted the ISPS Handa Wales Open for 15 years. The original Celtic Manor Hotel was formerly a maternity hospital and is Matthews’ birthplace.
Matthews founded the Wesley Clover Foundation, a non-profit philanthropic corporation that supports entrepreneurship, healthcare, education, and community initiatives. The foundation leased properties formerly known as the Nepean National Equestrian Park and the Ottawa Municipal Campground to create Wesley Clover Parks. Matthews also hosts an annual gala, Lemiere, that has raised over $1 million for charity.