White-box manufacturer, integrator and distributor Ocean Office Equipment recently celebrated its 10th anniversary with a gala dinner for staff, suppliers and resellers.
Reaching the milestone brought tremendous personal satisfaction to executive director Charlie Chow, who, in the great tradition of IT companies, started the business in his garage.
When he opened the first office in February 1992, Ocean had five staff, focusing on distributing components and finished PCs. Today it has three offices (Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane) and just under 40 employees, with a much keener focus on assembly and integration as well as an automated production line.
Last year, Ocean was appointed as an authorised Intel Server Assembly Centre, which Chow said has both "opened up a vast new market for our customers" and shown recognition for the company's technical expertise.
Chow said he has seen a lot of changes in the market over 10 years. In the original 286 and 386 PCs he sold, "1MB RAM was plenty and a 10MB hard disk drive was huge", whereas today "128MB of RAM and a 20GB HDD is probably the minimum system requirement".
Business models have also changed dramatically. "It is no longer enough just to move boxes," Chow told the assembled guests. "Integration is important. It is no longer enough to just sell. Support is important."
Chow also reflected on how much tougher business is these days and how Ocean, which manufactures the Octek brand of PCs, has had to change the business to suit the new era.
"The market has been tough for local system integrators, with the large multinationals getting pretty aggressive," he said. "We do not have the resources they have, but with the support of our local partners there is no reason why we cannot compete. We are able to provide a more personalised and hands-on approach. We can work with our partners to provide more products and expertise, according to market needs."
Chow said 2001 had been the toughest year ever but claimed he is seeing a bit of a turnaround and he is confident the company will still be here in another 10 years. "The year 2002 has started off well. With the support of our loyal customers and suppliers, we expect to see a growth of 30 per cent compared to 2001."