Winter chill signals business boom for Snowline

Winter chill signals business boom for Snowline

With autumn snow falling, Dave Green is gearing up for a busy winter. Green runs Snowline Computer Services in Ohakune, in addition to his full-time job as IT manager at a local, large-scale manufacturing plant.

Because of Green’s dual roles, Snowline operates in the evenings and at weekends, with business coming in at varying intervals. “The hardware sales are not big enough to support full-time operations, but sometimes I have no spare time to myself,” he says.

Green has worked in IT since the 1970s, including a stint with Digital Equipment Corporation in technical support and management in Wellington, followed by a spell with what was Business Computers Ltd.

In 2000, he and his family moved to a property 10kms west of Ohakune to open a horticultural business, as well as run his computer business. But the vagaries of the weather meant the horticulture business failed.

Green did contract work at a major local employer, before becoming its IT manager seven years ago. He prefers not to identify the employer, saying he keeps each role wholly separate.

One of Green’s sons named the company Snowline to reflect regional geography. The business offers computer services to firms in Ohakune and Raetihi, and occasionally to those in Waiouru.

Business is focused primarily on computer sales and support, hardware replacement, repair and upgrades, anti-virus, broadband installations and networking.

Most sectors are covered, including hospitality, retail, real estate, legal services, rural, schools, kindergartens and some ski fields.

“One of the biggest challenges is getting fast internet access in rural properties outside of town. Five or six kilometres out of town, you run out of broadband. A lot of people still use dialup, but a few have taken up Farmside’s satellite service.”

Green says there are definite advantages to serving a particular catchment.

“I am the local operator. The only other option is to get people from Palmerston North, Wanganui or Taumaranui, so they end up paying for three to four hours’ travelling time.”

Snowline’s business is consistent, though it picks up during the ski season with visitors seeking access to wireless networks and requiring their systems to be reconfigured.

Green typically builds about three to four PCs a month for customers and tends not to use named brands. He provides his own warranty support.

“The quality is very good and I have few support issues,” he says. His primary suppliers are Ingram Micro, Synnex, Dove and Computer Dynamics. Parts are couriered from Auckland, arriving overnight.

Green says locals are understanding about the computer business only operating part-time.

The work comes in bursts, with some quiet times and others when Green has no free time at all.

Overall, Green says business is “pretty active”, and desktop orders are increasing. “It boils down to one job after work per day, two at the most. Often I will take people’s computers home. If [I’m] reloading computer software, I can let it run while [I’m] doing something else,” he says.

Green says there are no conflicts between Snowline and his day job, as his day job takes priority.

“I keep the two activities very well separated. They benefit from my expertise. I still have a good handle as to whether we get a good deal on what we are purchasing here,” he says.

When not working, Green enjoys snowboarding, tramping and other outdoor activities. His wife works in Ohakune and the couple have a 13-hectare sheep and cattle farm.

“I love the rural lifestyle, the community is really good to be a part of and the environment is very pleasant. Anybody who wants to get out of the city should give the rural lifestyle a go. I’m never short of things to do.”

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