Only just over a year has passed since Steve Knutson and his business partner Peter Cummins found themselves out of jobs as the doors of Datasouth Business Solutions were closed and the business went into liquidation. Its owner, Gavin Bennett, has since been sentenced to eight years in jail, after an investigation led by the Serious Fraud Office found a $23 million fraud.
The end of Datasouth had one silver lining. It was, as Knutson now refers to it, “the catalyst” for what happened next in the senior systems engineer’s life. Knutson and Cummins, together with David Carterfrom Datapro, started Canterbury Business Solutions following Datasouth’s downfall. “It was the catalyst for us to get ourselves off the ground,” says Knutson.
The company has had a “very good 12 months” and is gearing up for another good year with many projects about to go live and others in the pipeline. In just twelve months, staff grew from three permanent employees and one contractor to 13 staff members. As business grows, Knutson does not exclude the possibility of further increasing this number.
The company has recently developed a web-based membership system for YHA New Zealand, including an API (Application Programming Interface) allowing third-party solutions to interact with the system. “It has been quite a bit project for us,” says the general manager.
Lincoln University, PGG Wrightson and electionz.com are other names in the company’s clients portfolio. Canterbury Business Solutions specialises in customer software development, business intelligence and SharePoint. According to Knutson, work with a client often starts in one of those areas and moves onto the others, turning the relationship into an ongoing one. Customer software development remains, for now, half of the company’s business.
“Business is going really well,” says Knutson. “We are slowly growing.” In addition to getting new clients, the company inherited some “loyal customers” from Datasouth and is still working with those, he says.
“There are plenty of opportunities out there. There are lots of people out there trying to be more efficient,” adds Knutson. He says that a lot of his business is geared towards the cloud, with fewer clients coming to him for desktop-based software development. “The web is where everybody is at.”
The new business has picked up clients all over the country and also across the Tasman. “We also have more prospects there that we hope to get,” he adds. Knutson says there are more opportunities for business in both countries and will be exploring them in the near future.