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Drying out in Masterton

01 Aug 2006

Now the flood waters have receded in the Wairarapa The Channel put on its gum boots to take a look at Masterton’s Technology Solutions. General manager and owner Simon Griffiths took time out from mopping up to discuss his company.When was the business established?Wairarapa Computer Services was established in 1974 and initially provided a facility for clients to come and have their accounts processed by our Datapoint mini-computer. As PCs became more and more common we started to support our clients that had their own systems.Gradually the size of hard disks began to increase and the cost of the equipment started to decrease. Over the years we have become the pre-eminent computer hardware and service centre in the Wairarapa.What other significant changes has the business been through?In 1995 Wairarapa Computer Services purchased our local competitor, ComputerLand.Nationally ComputerLand’s main clients were mostly large corporates however few of these customers were based in Masterton so in 1999 the ComputerLand name was dropped.As we have changed over the last 30 years we have continued to focus on providing back-up support and expertise for our clients. Technology Solutions is now the largest company of its type in the Wairarapa and employs twelve staff.We have skills covering a wide range of services - from network installation to software development.What are your key business areas and, of those, which is your biggest area?Our main business is in on-site servicing, network installation and complete site IT management. Other key business areas include web development, internet services/ site hosting, application software and workshop repair.Who are your clients and what business challenges do they face ?Our clients cover the whole spectrum of daily life in the Wairarapa - from industry and professional services to medical and educational sites. As with all economic and social activity today essentially nothing is run without technological help. For many of our clients ensuring they meet their user (or customer) expectations is the biggest challenge and technology usually plays a significant role in this. From our point of view it’s ensuring we keep our clients up to date with the best technology and best practices for their needs and keeping all these diverse systems running smoothly.What challenges do you face being outside a metropolitan area?Mainly establishing the right mix of skills and talent to meet every challenge. Being outside a metropolitan area means issues like attending seminars and training can be more difficult.Also getting parts delivered to the Wairarapa can sometimes have frustrating delays.Rural communities have no fewer IT demands than metropolitan areas, the up side is that we can drive to work in two minutes (four minutes if traffic is really bad).Which distributors do you use?Mainly Ingram Micro and Dove.What are the hot products right now?The main demand at present, in fact for the last two years, has been in upgrading network hardware, incorporating wireless into networks and the latest storage systems. Providing effective email and anti-spam solutions is increasingly more important as is providing mobile solutions to information.We are finding clients want to have access to their systems, email and data from anywhere at anytime.What’s dropped off?Just the standard old technology, stuff like dialup modems, CRT monitors and Floppy drives (remember those?) are all products that are steadily disappearing. I can’t remember when we last sold a Commodore-64.Are you looking at expanding?Given that the Wairarapa is a geographical entity in itself we’re not planning to expand outside the region at this stage. However many of our clients have sites all over the country and even the world so our technicians do travel considerably. Using technology naturally means we can manage and effectively work at sites remotely a lot of the time.What’s the best thing about your location?A beautiful heritage house set in lovely gardens in the heart of Masterton placing us within easy reach of all our main clients in the Wairarapa - stretching from Martinborough in the south to Eketahuna in the north. Did I mention the two minute drive to work?