Last October's merger between Queenstown IT services firms Digital 7 and Quick IT has created a comprehensive technology business, though it can be challenging , says Digital 7 managing director Danny Conroy.
Quick IT bought Digital 7 and the combined operation moved to new premises at the Gorge Rd retail centre on the outskirts of town. Conroy, who was head of Quick IT, says the former overseas owners of Digital 7 approached him when they wanted to exit their business.
Digital 7 focused on sales and repairs for home users and had a retail store in nearby Frankton, while Quick IT was aimed more at the business market, says Conroy.
Now, the combined business, employing six and trading as Digital 7, continues to serve the home market, while also catering for network services from cabling and wireless networks, patch panels, telephone systems and point of sale for the many restaurants and bars in Queenstown.
It also holds the local Computer Troubleshooters franchise.
Such a comprehensive offering, Conroy says, is what differentiates Digital 7 from its rivals. However, it also brings challenges, he says.
“The biggest challenge is finding good technicians willing to work [here]. I have advertised on Trade Me and we have 30 to 40 applicants for a job. Very few are from around here, the rest are from Auckland and Wellington. These people also don't have field experience. They do an IT course and leap out looking for jobs,” Conroy says.
Meeting price expectations can also be a challenge for Conroy.
“In Queenstown you are dealing with smaller businesses who are not keen to pay Auckland technician prices and we have to pay Auckland wages, which is a bad combination.
"We have to offer lower rates (to customers) but we need to keep our wages and costs in balance as [best] we can. It is kind of frightening when you look at the wage expectation of some of the younger technicians,” he says.
But the business is boosted by a lifestyle location that allows staff in the weekend to hunt, dive, fish and ski, and offers diverse project work that includes working offsite.
“The opportunities are there to do lots of things. It is nice to have people on the team who do that and fit in the town,” Conroy says. Most staff are from overseas and current and past employees have come from Britain, Ireland, Australia, Malaysia, the Philippines and Brazil.
Recent projects have included fitting radio links and internet services to the isolated Skippers Canyon. Other work at Walter Peak Station involved taking the Earnslaw steamer across Lake Wakitipu and joining the tourists for a sing-song along the way.
“It all makes for interesting times. We also do a lot of remote support, logging into servers and work stations for home users,” he says.
Digital 7 serves Queenstown, Wanaka, Arrowtown, with a few clients in Cromwell and Alexandra. Some jobs are also done in Auckland for companies that have head offices in Queenstown.
Digital 7's main brands include HP, Microsoft, Shadowprotect, Trend Micro, NOD 32, Sony and Acer, and it has just joined the Dell channel.
Distributors include Ingram Micro, Exeed, Sektor, Dove and Computer Dynamics.
With winter arriving, Conroy says the business is having a busy time as tourism ventures need IT work done during their seasonal busy times. However, the area's diverse range of other business, such as real estate, helps balance the seasonal fluctuations.
“It has been getting busier by the month, as people get more confident and see opportunities to spend as the market improves,” Conroy says.
Businesses are looking at virtualisation and rebuilding servers; and the hospitality sector has a need for handheld devices and touchscreen terminals, he adds.
Digital 7 plans to deliver more POS and server offerings, including extending an after-hours service to more of its clients.
“We think the coming year will be good and busy for us and all our clients,” Conroy says.