SA's largest reseller diversifies into telemarketing

SA's largest reseller diversifies into telemarketing

South Australia's largest locally-owned reseller, the A&R Computer Services Group, has diversified its activities into telemarketing.

The eight-year-old family-run company, which already operates computer assembly, retailing, servicing and Internet access businesses, has identified telemarketing as an effective and profitable way to leverage its existing infrastructure.

A&R Computing Services co-founder and director Bob Johnson said the group had broken into two new areas.

"One is a 1900 number, which is assistance for people when they ring up at $3 a minute," he said.

"The other avenue is telemarketing for computer consumables."

Founded in 1990, A&R has grown from a small service operation to a multi-company business with a projected 1997-98 turnover of $12 million and 53 employees. Four years ago, it employed a staff of seven people.

The group comprises three companies: A&R Computer Services, which is the retail operation founded in 1990, encompassing computer sales and services; Arcom, the group's PC manufacturer and brand; and ArcomNet, an Internet access business with 3000 members.

As well as its head office store at Port Adelaide, in Adelaide's western suburbs, the group recently established what is claimed to be South Australia's largest computer outlet, a 540 square metre store in the southern suburb of Melrose Park.

Johnson said the company was on target for a turnover of $12.5 million this year, increasing to $15 million in the following 12 months.

"The major growth has been in retail sales of PCs," he said.

"About 75-80 per cent of our business is directly related to selling PCs. Also we have an onsite service business through Arcom Direct, with vans doing on-site service through a 1800 number."

Johnson founded A&R Computing Services after a restructuring of his then-employer, Adelaide Wallaroo Fertilisers, moved its computing operations to Melbourne, making his data processing manager position redundant.

However, he managed to win a network support contract with the company that lasted four and a half years, providing a stable piece of business for his start-up operation.

Johnson now runs A&R Computing Services with his wife Fay, who is general manager, fellow director Gavin Gold and his wife Margaret, who is in charge of office administration.

"We believe we would be the largest PC retailer in SA if you looked at the overall volume we do and the number of people we employ," said Johnson.

"A key success factor is our method of marketing. We took on the role of coming up with computer packages for the home. That took off like a rocket. We had that segment to ourselves for about six months before any other retailer started doing that. We still follow that line now."

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