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Our northern neighbours

This month we take a trip to the winterless north to visit Kerikeri-based Scottronic Technology Director Ric McCready talks about what makes his business tick.

How did it all begin?The business has been round for over 12 years - Keith Scott started things - he made (and still makes) taxi meters and the computer thing seemed to be a logical expansion of his business. A couple of years later he split the two parts, selling the computer sales and service part of the business. This grew from three to six staff over the next few years. I took over in 2001 and since then we’ve grown to 14 staff.

What changes has the business undergone?It’s gone from a one man back office operation to having two retail shops, a business sales section and seven service engineers.Being a small town we have to cover anything that comes along - there isn’t much room for verticals when the population is under 10,000.

Which distributors do you use?Service offering is a big part of our business - so we try and sell products that can be serviced locally. We’ve had long partnerships with Ultra and Arche Computers and believe they are best at providing what we need. Of course it’s hard to ignore the multinationals and we’ve seen a growing relationship with HP through Ingram Micro and Sony through Dove. We’ve also been a Microsoft certified partner for over five years and this gives us a good opportunity to keep up with the latest trends.Who are your clients?Everyone in Northland - we cover from Kawakawa to Kaitaia and have been involved in everything from home PC’s, business, schools to local government. We’re most suited to the top 50% of the market – I’m a strong believer in doing it right rather than doing it cheap.

What’s your core business?Small business networks - having developed support contracts over the past three years we’ve seen real rewards.

What challenges do you face operating outside a metropolitan area?Keeping up with technology is a big one. However our staff are mostly ex corporate IT people that have moved here for the lifestyle, so there’s a lot of background knowledge and contacts already there.It’s difficult to pop down to Auckland for every product release so we have to get information other ways. Travel is a big cost and is time consuming for the engineers. Our customers are generally small and decision making is very personal - planning is almost non existent and a lot of things happen on the spur of the moment - you really have to be on the ball.

Do you have any trouble recruiting staff?We haven’t had too much trouble because there are so many people moving into the area. We’ve tended to expand staff numbers based on the personnel opportunity that walks in the door rather than advertising for positions.

What technology is hot right now?Laptops - everyone said people were going to replace desktops with laptops but it’s happened really quickly. Mobile and internet services attract a lot of attention although we’re a bit restricted on the offerings up here.

What’s not?Windows Media Centre has been a big disappointment. I think it’s a great product but it’s just too hard for the end user and really hasn’t worked. Maybe there is more to come with Vista.  

What’s the best thing about your location?Well that’s easy - no traffic, sailing and fishing are only 15 minutes away.