It all started with a Holden Kingswood and a kid who had a knack for selling goods for more than he paid for them.
Back when Bon Jovi still had hair extensions, Tony Nestola bought a Kingswood for $690. Six months later Nestola polished the duco, blacked the tyres, refurbished the interior and sold his wheels for a tidy profit.
"I would always buy things and sell them, and make money on them," Nestola says as though he were describing a long-term hobby.
Two decades later, Nestola runs Global Remarketing, a company within the Volante group that has refurbished and resold 115,000 PCs since June 1998.
However, the trajectory from refurbishing cars to refurbishing PCs was not entirely direct. Just after he left school Nestola was on the way to becoming a financial trader, after his uncle offered him a job in the gold bullion division of a merchant bank.
"Basically I was offered the choice between taking a job which would pay me 40 grand to train me up - the whole kit and caboodle - and doing my own thing," Nestola said.
As attractive as it sounded, Nestola turned down his uncle's offer and applied for a couple of jobs at computer resellers and integrators.
"I went out and applied for a couple of jobs, all of which I got. So I took the highest paid and started out at one of the largest IBM and Compaq resellers in Australia," Nestola said.
Nestola soon found himself earning $22,000 and driving around in the company HiAce, working as a technician for Hisoft.
"I was just going with the flow. I knew I wanted to be associated with IT somewhere," Nestola said. "I always liked fiddling with things."
It wasn't long before his penchant for sales was noticed, and Nestola moved out of the workshop and on to the floor, and was handed half a dozen accounts to look after.
By 1993 Nestola was getting restless. Keeping an eye out for opportunities, he co-founded State Computer and used his sales knack to construct a sturdy base in both the Sydney and Melbourne markets.
After building itself up as one of the largest IBM resellers in Australia, State Computers sent shockwaves through the channel in May 1998, when it merged with PC Express to form a new company with combined revenues of more than $160 million. With the backing of Macquarie Bank, Volante lurched onto the Australian market with Melbourne-based managing director Wayne Morris at the helm.
In the meantime, Nestola came across a novel venture that no-one had yet been able to tackle. He discovered IBM was looking for a way to profitably dispose of thousands of end-of-lease units.
"These units had been financed by IBM throughout the leasing process," Nestola said. "Suddenly when the leases were over, IBM was left with a stack of PCs they didn't know what to do with. They were trying to figure out how to manage the refurbishment and resale process, and needed someone to come up with a realistic business plan."
Nestola went away thoughtfully and came back with a proposal. IBM accepted and Global Remarketing was born in June 1998.
"Global Remarketing is like a separate business within Volante," Nestola said. "We work with a specific reseller market that focuses on education verticals, and other areas where the end users are not looking for the latest in functionality, they just want a PC that works.
"This product caters for the person that only has $600 to spend on a PC. It's not as though a student has $2000 to get all the bells and whistles," Nestola said.
By December 1999 the merger had solidified, and Volante announced its intention to list on the Australian Stock Exchange in an attempt to ramp up investments and increase staffing levels.
Cashed up after its listing, Volante played a key role in the raft of channel mergers and acquisitions in 2000, and managed to steer its way through the dot-com crash.
Nestola seems pleased with the company's performance and intends to focus on developing his current business for sometime.
"I am one of the original founders of this group. I am happy to go wherever it takes me," Nestola said. "I run my own company within Volante and I'm really enjoying what I do."
While he describes himself as a workaholic, he has also found time to establish a family and is already priming his sons for a career in IT.
"They both have a computer in their rooms," Nestola says. "I see them each running their own companies one day. However, I believe it is important for them to start at the bottom and go through all the different levels of the business. In order to run a company you have to understand all the operations and logistics involved in the business."
When it comes to the crunch, however, Nestola believes a flair for sales is among the most important attributes of any manager, and one which he uses at all levels of business.
"The sales flair has to come with you through all levels of business. You need to call on it when you are entertaining relationships with other companies," Nestola said. "When I approach another company in order to negotiate a partnership, I am selling the attributes of my own company. I am telling them that we can carry out a certain task effectively and I have to convince them of our ability to do that. In the end it all comes down to sales."