“You do realise that NT stands for not today, not tomorrow, not Tuesday or not Thursday.”
In assessing the Northern Territory market through Victorian eyes, Territory Technology Solutions managing director, Michael Feldbauer, is driving change at the heart of the Australian outback.
Adding weight to the theory that certain business mannerisms apply to certain regional states, Feldbauer’s approach to building a IT support provider is framed from outside influences.
“Where I came from in Victoria, that was never allowed,” he said. “That whole ethos of people simply not turning up, or turning up only when they felt like it just didn’t work.
“You would get flogged for doing something like that.”
Speaking to ARN amidst a company growth spurt, Feldbauer started his Darwin business in 1999, prompted by the desire to change the ways of the working world at a local level.
“I thought if I’m going to come up here, then I’m going to do it better than everybody else,” said Feldbauer, who spent four years working in the region prior to starting his own business.
Feldbauer said Territory Technology - recently recognised as a key WatchGuard partner - was formed after seeing a large need in the small business sector for IT support that wasn’t currently being adequately met.
In his own words; “small businesses were being neglected by large IT companies too busy or too big to understand their needs.”
As an approved Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer and a qualified Technician with over 14 years experience, Feldbauer filled the gap.
Naturally, difficulty followed for a company fresh in business, but opportunities came through the hardship of others, leading to new deals and contracts.
“I was in the right place at the right time,” he recalled. “Another local company went bust and I picked up an IBM dealership and went on from there.
“In the early days it was very difficult and I was also working as a contractor for another company whilst building the business. To ensure that I was making the right decisions, I sought guidance from other local business owners.”
With very little advertising and relying mostly on word of mouth, Territory Technology has progressed through organic growth, recently bringing on board a sales team specialising in selling Tier 1 hardware solutions such as Toshiba, IBM and Netgear.
Also recognised as a Microsoft Certified Partner, within the first twelve months, the business accelerated, with Feldbauer bringing across a number of apprentice staff who he trained from previous roles.
During the height of the business, the company won multiple government contracts and hit an all-time staff count of 75, with expansion into Alice Springs soon following.
“It was a bit like running an adult day care centre,” Feldbauer joked. “So we scaled back and are now sitting at 50 staff.
“In being an engineer, I’ve always been service focused. But to grow the business and establish new clients and work, I realised we needed to create a sales team.
“While we carry out lots of technical work, we are very choosy about the work that we do and the solutions that we provide.”
From inception, the company worked “around the clock” to deliver “enterprise-type service” for customers, for as many as three to four people.
“It’s the whole duck swimming on the calm pond,” he added. “At the top, it’s all calm and serene, but underneath the duck is paddling a million miles an hour. No one knows what is really going on behind the scenes, I suppose.”
In a region such as Darwin, Feldbauer recognised that business reputation is significant within smaller markets, particularly when business growth is impinged on word-of-mouth and verbal referrals.
“Ultimately, it’s about relationships and really a simple formula - turn up when you say you are going to turn up and do what you say you are going to do,” he added.
“We have a good spread and a good reputation that we have built over the years. There is only one other company about the same size as us and it’s literally 100m away from where we are now, just over my back fence.”
The entrepreneur said that in Darwin, the company’s solutions can be applied to every aspect of business, spanning from not-for-profits to commercial organisations like accountants.
“Our biggest client employs 300 staff and that is one of the biggest employers in the Territory,” he explained. “We’re the ‘lucky ones’ with an extensive early roll-out of the nbn, so lately, people have been looking at a lot of telephony requirements. We’re doing a lot with our Avaya product.”
Feldbauer added that Territory Solutions has a strong play in remote areas of Australia, recently implementing wireless network infrastructures in remote areas for companies’ branch offices to connect back to business headquarters in Darwin.
“It is quite challenging working in some of these places,” he added. “You have to make everything bulletproof. The infrastructure has the tendency to get smashed down and so forth.”
In addition, Feldbauer said the company joined forces with Telstra, taking on a professional services partnership across the region.
“We are assisting Telstra with the deployment and design of a number of Telstra Cloud solutions,” he added. “I look at that as, you would rather be on the bus, than under the bus.”
While the company is not seeking expansion at this stage, they have recently claimed over a million dollars in work, through it’s heavy support play with Government.
“We have been working withwireless network deployments for one of our customers in a very remote area of Australia,” he explained.
“We are wirelessly connecting an island and providing a wireless infrastructure for their organisation which will be running Internet and telephony services across and connecting them back to their main office in Darwin.
“It is quite challenging working in some of these places because you have to make everything bulletproof. The infrastructure has the tendency to get smashed down."