Harbouring a winner

01 May 09

With humble beginnings as an in-house IT support team for East Harbour Management Services Ltd, EastHarbour IT has grown to become a business in its own right, servicing approximately 70 clients in the Wellington region and beyond. Managing Director Ben Courtney talks about playing to your strengths and the value of maintaining close relationships with clients.

How did it all begin?
EastHarbour IT began in 2001 as in-house IT support for a local engineering consultancy. Since then, it has progressed as an independent entity and grown to a point where it is now a wellestablished IT integrator, supporting many small-to-medium-sized businesses in the greater Wellington region and beyond.

What changes has the business undergone?
In the early days of EastHarbour IT we were providing a wide range of software customisation to hardware support. Within the fi rst two years of operation we made the decision to choose one area of focus, and to do it well.
What is your core business?
EastHarbour IT provides IT supportservices to small and medium businesses. We take the role of your in-house IT manager for businesses that can’t afford to have one on staff full-time. We design, develop, implement and maintain full network solutions for our clients where, more often than not, Microsoft Small Business Server is at the core.
What are your clients and what business challenges do they face?
Our clients are spread across different industries; however, there is defi nitely an area of common focus and that’s the need to be working more effi ciently through the use of better IT technologies and implementations. They also want someone who will be there quickly to fi x problems.
Is your physical location a challenge to doing business?
We’re located in the Wellington CBD and this is where the majority of our clients are also based. However, a good deal of our client work can be done remotely, which helps to cut down costs and increase response times. At the end of the day, we have built great relationships with our clients and there is no substitute for going on-site, and not only getting our work done in person, but also using the opportunity for a bit of a chinwag and a catch-up over a coffee! Often that discussion identifi es issues that have been bothering them but they hadn’t done anything about.
What technology is hot right now?
We’re fi nding that a lot of our clients are interested in using technology to help reduce their costs in a variety of areas. One thing we’re doing a lot of work with is video streaming. The ability for our clients to stream a seminar or conference live over the internet to their potential customers who may be anywhere in the world is hugely exciting for them. Adding in the ability to watch these presentations on-demand in other time zones at a time that suits the customer means that the target audience can be maximised.
What’s not?
Any technology that ties an end user to a fixed location is not hot right now. People want to be able to work whenever and wherever they want. Many businesses have provided their employees with huge levels of flexibility when it comes to when and where they are able to work, and there is a whole heap of really great new technology out there that helps enable this. Use a laptop and carry a smartphone at all times!
What’s the best thing about your location?
Two words: Courtenay Place. We couldn’t be in a more exciting and vibrant location anywhere else in the country. The added bonus of accessibility to our clients’ sites and their accessibility to us tops it all off and that’s before we even begin to talk about the cafés in the vicinity...
Without giving away valuable IP – what do you think is the secret to your success?
Relationships, relationships, relationships! Whether it is between us and our clients or suppliers, our business and reputation is built on the great relationships our employees develop and nurture on a daily basis. A good sense of humour, a calm and  relaxed frame of mind under pressure and the ability to hold a conversation that the client understands are the key attributes we look for in new employees.

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