Gaston Sepulveda-Gomez, or Gus as he is known, often works as the IT department for the many small businesses that dominate Queenstown.
Originally from Puntas Arenas, in the Patagonia region of Southern Chile, Sepulveda-Gomez wrote his first computer program at the age of 10, which eventually led him to study computer engineering at the local Catholic university.
“I got into Unix and Linux systems and became part of the open source community in Chile,” he explains.
Sepulveda-Gomez came to Queenstown five years ago, attracted to New Zealand by the movie Lord of the Rings. He now runs his own business, QTIT – an IT services company that operates from his home and also employs an administrator, plus two web developers.
The 26 year old originally worked as an IT staffer and manager for two local businesses – Goldfields and Goldfields Jet – where over four years he implemented point-of-sale systems and worked with critical parts of management systems.
However, like many IT staffers in Queenstown, Sepulveda-Gomez felt that launching his own business offered more potential, so he founded QTIT in December 2006.
QTIT serves homes and businesses across the Central Otago and Southern Lakes, with customers in Queenstown, Cromwell, Clyde, Alexandra and Te Anau.
The business promises full IT support for Microsoft, Unix, and Mac systems.
“We do PCs, laptops, server applications, NAS applications in networking, backup storage, networking and storage and web design,” Sepulveda-Gomez says.
“We also lease and sell computers, computer parts, including networking routers and hubs.”
Brands include IBM, HP, Compaq and Dell.
“We are partners with Linksys, ASUS and Cisco,” he continues.
Business customers are typically small, such as a local print shop, chain of motels, lodges and hotels.
Altogether Sepulveda-Gomez manages some 45 sites.
“Businesses are small so they contract people. They are all local with few chains so they get local IT firms, as they are not big enough to have their own IT staff,” he says.
His work also includes troubleshooting and setting up wireless networks with inhouse security.
Then, there are the home users, who typically buy a new computer and they want upgrades such as wireless at home to avoid having cables around the house.
“IT is definitely the main part. There are good opportunities in Queenstown for all businesses. The town is always developing. As one business goes away, another will take over,” he says.
Sepulveda-Gomez believes what sets him apart from others like him in Queenstown is that he can do everything, including fixing printers.
Business is good and QTIT is looking to expand, offering more services support and contracting.
“There is enough competition for the amount of business in town. What happens is IT professionals come and go. They stay six months for the ski season and then leave us, Big Bear and Digital 7 [to serve the market],” Sepulveda-Gomez says.
Sepulveda-Gomez likes to work on web design in the evening “when I put my headphones on and go crazy”.
Over the weekend, he is only on call but he says it “can be pretty busy as Queenstown never stops on a weekend”. The ski season is also busier, with Monday, Tuesday and Friday as “crazy, crazy days as people want to get things done”.
Sepulveda-Gomez says QTIT is well known in Queenstown, especially to larger businesses since he has a marketing person, plus himself who also markets the business.
He has also built up business contacts and customers who have helped spread the word.
Being young and more relaxed is another benefit, claims Sepulveda-Gomez. “I am only 25. We try and bring more freshness into IT.”
Sepulveda-Gomez has found settling in Queenstown easy as it is “not a Kiwi town”, but more international in outlook.
However, he says New Zealanders are less patient than Chileans who realise “things take time”.
He says Unix and open source are more common in Chile.
“In Chile, Microsoft is not the option you take over there,” Sepulveda-Gomez says.
Living standards and wages “are the same” in either country.
“IT is well paid wherever you go. It’s what runs the world at the moment.”