Business profile: Sol-Tec LimitedBy David Millward
April 01, 2011
The boss: Managing director Nik Topham: “I’ve been involved in IT for over half my life and most of that has been with Sol-Tec, following a short stint at a data backup company called Fifth Generation and spending three years travelling the world.
"I was determined on my return not to fall back into the same mundane job that I left and decided to start my own business. IT seemed to be a growth area so in 1992 I started Sol-Tec. I am now 43 and live in the area with my wife and three children.”
What is your business about? “Sol-Tec has a highly accredited and experienced engineering team who provide telephone, remote access and onsite technical services. We provide assistance to organisations’ existing IT individuals and teams or provide a direct service to their computer users.
“We have very close relationships with technology leaders like Hewlett Packard, Microsoft, VMware and Citrix, holding both company and many individual accreditations. Sol-Tec really is expert with computer server and data storage infrastructure.
"I am constantly assessing the services we offer and in the past two years introduced a remote computer server service to aid companies when disaster strikes and am currently closely examining how to provide further cloud computing services.”
What product/services do you offer? “Sol-Tec can supply from a range of over 250,000 different IT products with most orders being delivered next business day. We provide pre-sales advice so our customers make the right purchasing decision. Our manufacturer accreditations allow us to buy at the best possible prices which keeps our selling prices as competitive as possible.
“Over the last 10 years we have developed and sell a range of technical and managed services which have proved very popular. Our technical services range from providing skilled engineers to assist with installations to IT network design to providing a remote help desk for users to call if they have a computer problem. We have also introduced an online data backup service and an offsite server recovery service.
"We are near to launching our own range of desktop cloud based services for Microsoft Exchange email, Microsoft Office as well as a tailored service for a company’s complete IT system.”
How and when did you start your business? “I started Sol-Tec from my fathers’ garage in 1993 selling storage and data backup products to companies in the Berkshire area.”
How many staff do you employ? “25”
Who are your customers? “Mainly small and mid-sized companies although we have had success within the education sector. We supply products and services nationally but are very proud to be part of the Berkshire business community who contribute a large part of our customer base.”
What sets you apart from the competition? “Sol-Tec is a technical specialist with extensive skills and experience with servers and storage but we are manufacturer independent. This means we offer customers a boutique approach recommending solutions that best fit the customer’s need. This solution can be from one or more competing manufacturers. The most important aspect of a sale is fitting the customer need.
“This differs greatly from computer resellers who either promote from a much smaller selection of manufacturers or simply do not have the level of technical expertise to be advising companies on their IT strategy, projects and purchases.”
How has the recession affected business? “I started Sol-Tec in a recession and this helped greatly. During a recession companies want the same service and products for less money. This has kept Sol-Tec lean and very efficient.
"The lessons learnt during the company’s start-up are very much in place today. Sol-Tec may be one of the top 100 UK Hewlett Packard resellers and a Microsoft Gold partner but I check the pennies daily.”
How do you feel about the future? “Very positive. The role of the traditional IT reseller is changing with the introduction of cloud computing which will bring better IT to computer users at a more affordable price. Sol-Tec is in prime position to take advantage of that.”