Regional resellers: Ballarat

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This article appeared in the February 2017 issue of CRN magazine.

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Regional resellers: Ballarat

Three Victorian IT leaders share their stories.

Mark Marschke, Tower IT

There was a computer retailer and repairer who was looking for a manager. The owner and I clicked immediately and before I’d left the interview I got the job and started the next day. I was the manager for Tower IT for about eight months before the owners came to me and offered to sell me the business.
I put on my technician, a local lad, and it’s been him and myself for the last six or seven years.

Our core business is repairs and our main demographic is the domestic market. We can provide a fair gamut of services to people and we do have a network of contractors. We do sales, but that is really to support our repairs. We also sell refurbished goods, including refurbished laptops and desktops. But it is service and quick turnaround that keeps us in business.

On August 22, we shifted from the original site to our current location, which is a much larger facility with much better parking and access. Our workshop is approximately eight times the size of the workshop we had previously. There is definitely scope to grow.

Fact file

Headcount  2
Established  2010
Director Mark Marschke
Main suppliers  AMD, ASUS, Intel, Kaspersky, Lenovo, Microsoft, Samsung and Western Digital

Benjamin Brown, Mason-Brown

I started out commuting to Melbourne doing enterprise work. 

I decided there was capacity in Ballarat for that sort of work but at a smaller, SME level, so we decided we would try and bring some enterprise practice into the SME space.

We started initially with consulting and didn’t want to have any product. 

We quickly realised that the market required product, and built relationships with vendors and distributors for that.

About 18 months in we saw an opportunity in the hosting and SPLA environment, and basically shifted all of our existing client base and new clients into a hosting and subscription-based model. 

I would say 95 percent of our business is subscription-based.

We moved down the subscription path mid-2009, maybe a little bit earlier, and we were on the leading edge of the curve at that point. 

There’s a lot of providers that have taken a managed-services approach that don’t really manage managed services.

Fact file

Headcount  6
Established  2007
Director Benjamin Brown
Main suppliers  Ingram Micro, Acer, HP and Rhipe

Alan Ferguson, The Friendly Giant

We started as a BBS service on Windows 3.1 around 1992 and went on to become an ISP. I joined 17 years ago. We still have a finger in the ISP side of things, but less and less with the NBN now being here for most of Ballarat. 

We’re not a provider of NBN, we do Harbour ISP, so the ISP side is being phased out.

We do mostly repairs and we do some hardware sales, but most of the stock I keep is more directed at repairs and upgrades and so forth. We predominantly service the home user, with some small businesses as well. It’s a little on the notebook side, but mainly PCs.

We get a lot of people who come in for a quote but then go down and buy it from a retailer where it’s cheaper, but when it breaks they usually have to come back and see me.

Fact file

Headcount  1
Established  1992
Manager Alan Ferguson
Main suppliers  Anyone and everyone

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