A "management burnout” in the late 1990s led to a new career path for Ken Hippolite of Hippolite Computers.
Hippolite managed a local radio station and was a radio announcer for 15 years, but says he became burned out and so he did a one-year IT diploma with Avonmore Tertiary Academy in Christchurch.
“I really loved it, all sides, building computers from scratch, speccing for customers. I found I had a forte,” he says.
Hippolite later moved to Carich Computer Training, until he was made redundant from the company in 2003. Since then, he has worked for himself.
Though based at his home in Rolleston, near Christchurch, he often travels the country to serve clients.
“I am basically a systems integrator, but I also consult on Active Directory design, Exchange Server implementation, Sharepoint, and I am a Microsoft-certified trainer,” he says.
Hippolite Computers has a few home-based customers, though most are corporates in nearby Christchurch.
“The businesses I consult to are across the South Island. My largest is a large rural services business, Combined Rural Traders, with 400 seats. Basically I help them design their Active Directory topology and help them trouble shoot,” he says.
Hippolite also specialises in Small Business Server 2008, saying he likes the hardware and the software that makes up the technology. Microsoft, he says, has improved the ease of use of its offering to small businesses, making it easy to set up Sharepoint and join computers to a company domain.
“I have noted a lot of businesses getting into small intranet websites internally and Sharepoint has made it very easy for them. Because I am a trainer, I get called to train organisations who are thinking about internal websites. I attend to them, either by training their techs or helping some of their techs with the design. Sharepoint is tightly integrated with Exchange Server 2007 and Officer Server 2007 and it is really easy to implement and integrate across a business,” he says.
Training accounts for half of Hippolite’s business and that also takes him to Wellington and Auckland.
He subcontracts for Ace Training and has trained staff from the Auckland District Health Board and New Zealand Police.
Overall, business “has slackened in recent months, but it hasn’t died away altogether”, though he has noticed work is picking up again.
Currently, replacing PCs is a good source of work and Hippolite notes small firms are installing servers, with Small Business Server being implemented in many such businesses for the first time. He also expects Windows 7 will generate a lot of work.
“All the guys I talk to in the corporate world, when they upgrade the hardware will make sure Windows 7 comes pre-loaded, or they will put Windows 7 on the old hardware.
“Vista was seen as a steep learning curve and resource hungry. Windows 7 is seen as much more user and hardware-friendly. There are a lot of guys who have downloaded the betas and tested them.”
Other trends include people switching from desktops to laptops and installing wireless networks.
“I love wireless. I do a lot of wireless set-ups, especially for home [users], but it is almost essential for business to have good wireless coverage. Most sales reps and managers don’t work from desktops anymore and they need access to the corporate network from any room,” he says.
The company typically sources its supplies from Ingram Micro and Dove Electronics.
Hippolite is hopeful of better times ahead for his business and says much of it comes from word of mouth, rather than a detailed website, because everybody knows everybody in the South Island. He is also helped by his name - Hippolite.
“My brother said trading under my name was silly. I said to him ‘Michael Dell did it’.
“People remember it because it is distinctive,” he says.