We've been around since 1987. Not bad for an IT company in this climate, eh?
If you've been around for 20+ years, it's inevitable - particularly in Wellington - that someone somewhere will pipe up with a "do you know" line. It seems that everyone once worked for, or was a client of, Techtonics at some point. It's a fairly familiar name in this part of the world. According to Ross Bidmead, a founding shareholder of Techtonics and employee right up till 2008, the name Techtonics came about after some original names to the company office were rejected, so in desperation, and having already started trading, the team bought a shelf company called Tectonics - which had once had something to do with seismic engineering. Being the late 80s, anything with "tech" in it was sexy and so the team added the 'h' - and Tech-Tonics was born. Over time, it was sexier still to run two words together so Tech-Tonics became TechTonics, and in 2009 a brand overhaul saw both the logo and name change to simply Techtonics. Ross is now a Director and shareholder of Techtonics and shares the history of our great company below:
"1987 is better remembered by most who are old enough to have been in business then as the year of the stock market crash. It was also the year that 5 young guys with far more enthusiasm than business nous started Techtonics. The motivator was Mike McDermott and he had persuaded two friends to provide financial backing. The first few years were exceptionally tough and we all came to understand the term "sweat equity" as we frequently worked without pay. Tough when you are raising a young family and have mortgaged the house to keep the business afloat.
Life was made tougher by the cavalier approach to debt that was common at that time. Our office manager at that time was known to collect overdue bills by arriving at the client's reception area with a sleeping bag and announcing she was staying until she had a cheque.
Techtonics' intention was to capitalise on the recent popularity of the IBM PC AT. Its new 20Mb hard drive and expandability to 640kb of memory was finding lots of business uses. We sold and supported PCs, ran training courses in their use and developed applications in a stunning new tool called Advanced Revelation. We knew from day one that connecting the PCs together was going to be important and focused on NetWare as the way to do this. Not all our clients agreed and I was called into the offices of one of the large banks for a dressing down by the Computer Services Manager. "There was no future in PC networks and we were to cease and desist selling PCs and networks to anyone in the bank".
The focus on Netware paid off during the 1990s as we became known as the New Zealand experts in this space and grew to the point where we had 70 staff. Income from Madge Token Ring and Attachmate connectivity providing much of the fuel. It was a heady time and while there were often huge challenges, we were a young company with young staff and a work hard/play hard ethic. The parties in our Oriental Parade premises were rather too legendary.
During this time Mike McDermott left Techtonics to focus on Resourceware, which became a successful suite of HR management software and we the original financial backers sold out. The company continues to be owned by staff and ex staff.
By the late 90s, PCs and Networking were completely mainstream and the entire industry was growing quickly. Y2K came, whacked many of our competitors about the head, but left us reasonably unscathed. We had refused to get involved in the scaremongering and so continued with plenty of work. However our choice of networking products, competition from big computer companies and our unwillingness to embrace the popular (but in our view inefficient) outsourcing model began to hurt in 2002. IT services remain an important part of Techtonics services.
In 1993 we had been invited to assist in the installation of PC DOCS, a Document Management system for a Government Department. PC DOCs changed its name and ownership many times over the next 17 years, but it has continued to grow and evolve and is now part of Open Text, one of the biggest Document Management companies in the world. Our document management services grew in line with DOCs and we are probably the largest Document Management company in New Zealand.
IT is once again going through a spell of change, much like when Techtonics was formed in 1987. This time it is the provision of services across the Internet as SaaS (or Cloud Computing). Over the next few years many New Zealand business and teams within business will opt to rent applications by the month because it provides them with a fast flexible solution that entrenched IT cannot provide. The same reason we were popular in 1987. The difference this time is that we are well capitalised and hopefully wiser. It's going to be exciting."