The South Island’s West Coast may have a wild reputation, but that didn’t stop Richard Mackley from starting his own business providing IT support to SMBs there.
Mackley is now into his sixth month in business in his adopted town of Hokitika.
“I’ve got a project where I’m migrating one of my customers from SBS 2003 to SBS 2011,” Mackley said during a recent visit from Reseller News. “They’re running a few lines of business applications and I’m just getting the application organised to provide information to migrate those data bases to the new server. We’re putting in a new server as well.”
Mackley prefers IBM or HP for server hardware. “This is probably a historical thing but I’ve worked with IBM servers more than HP servers so I tend to lean towards them, but it really comes down to the price so that I can provide for good value to my customers really.”
Mackley relocated from Christchurch to Hokitika a few years ago to take on an IT role at Westland Milk Products. Mackley, who is a former employee of Integral Technology (now part of Dimension Data) has 15 years of IT experience under his belt in and around Christchurch. But through all that time, he had dreamed of moving to the West Coast, away from the traffic jams, or even the traffic lights.
“I’d often thought about moving here," he says. "I came here a lot on holidays to go mountain biking and climbing and tramping and camping and all sorts of things and just loved it over here.”
The 37 year old also loved the friendly people, and he wanted to bring up his family in a small town.
“We moved over here for a change of lifestyle. I’d always wanted to go and work for myself but moving to a new town, it takes a while to get to know people and with the Westland job I thought I’m best to go and do that before I go and work for myself. I’d actually spoken to a lot of business owners who said it’s really hard to get anyone to help them with their IT requirements. Financially to me it was a good time and it was summer as well.”
It’s early days yet, but if things continue the way they have been, Mackley says he may need help with the workload.
For now, Mackley is content to provide IT support, but he is thinking of offering some form of cloud service down the track.
“There are also not a lot of people here in the telephony space," Mackley adds. "So that’s something else that may develop. There are a lot of businesses here that make a lot of overseas calls so probably something in the VOIP area.”
Internet speeds in rural locations can be too slow for a decent connection, but in the towns, it's OK, he says. Generally, however, the quiet life of Hokitika still appeals to him.
“People actually know their neighbours and talk to them. Having a business like mine you really need to know a lot of people and you need to able to use word of mouth as a good way to get your business. It’s probably the best medium of all of them. It’s just really knocking on doors and doing good work for one person and they’re sure to tell somebody else and there’s where a lot of my customers have come from.”
Mackley says there’s a misconception about the West Coast weather.
“I think it’s a vicious rumour that it rains all the time here. We do get high rainfall here but that’s because when it rains it actually rains properly. It’s not very cold here. We only get a few frosts in the winter. But we do get some wild storms that come through here every now and then which plays havoc with IT and things.”
As for his business, Mackley wants to tap into the tourist industry around Fox and Franz Josef glaciers, with the many hotels and tourist operations.
“There’s actually no one supporting them,” he claims. “I’ve been down there and talked to a few and now it’s really just a case of making it economical to get down there every few weeks.”