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Procurement Strategy Helps Local Firm Grow Capability & Jobs

Procurement Strategy Helps Local Firm Grow Capability and Jobs

Thames-based new media technology company Guru Digital Media is advertising for another IT developer – growing staff numbers from eight to 17 in little more than a year.

New products are being developed and its client base now includes private enterprises including the country’s largest construction firm and several local authorities, thanks in part to partnering with Thames-Coromandel District Council on the development of some of its products.

Says founder Sean Cuttriss: “TCDC moved its web and digital services contract from a Wellington firm to us based in Thames - from this solid based we've been able to develop expertise in local government solutions which means we've been able to sell into other councils across New Zealand based on our experience with TCDC".

Guru Digital Media is a boutique Web and Digital production based agency specialising in New Media technology.

The digital products offered by Guru have expanded from smooth motion videos and animation to include HR and e-learning training modules after Sean identified a need, letting his staff do the development. The company also develops websites for businesses of all sizes, among its services.

General Manager James Pass became part-owner of the business at Christmas, after initially joining as Manager of Operations. The pair credit the business’ success to their blend of sales, creativity and business acumen (Sean) with management, processes and marketing expertise (James)

Their wives call it ‘bromance’ but jokes aside, for Sean and James it was a partnership that capitalises on the market interest in its range of IT solutions.

Sean, a master salesman and creative person with lesser strengths in documentation and management, took a sideways step to maximise on the skills he identified in business partner James.

“James joined us as Operations Manager and after two months I said to him ‘Hey, you would make a much better GM than me, why don’t you take over my job.

“It never was about ego - it’s what’s best for the business,” says Sean. “I’d rather have less of an ego and a better business than a bigger ego and a less successful business.”

Located on the Coromandel, Sean and James can make Auckland meetings in an hour with no traffic. Customers include Southern Cross Hospitals, TCDC, Fisher and Paykal and Jucy Rentals.

In a world of marketing in which approximately six per cent of the world’s mobile data traffic is predicted to be video by 2014, the company has grown to offer these organisations web development, micro-sites and analytics, filming, editing videos in-house, animation, design and illustration and smooth motion video

For TCDC, Guru works with Tairua-based communications contractor Alison Smith who provides PR, copywriting, photography and content, and together with the Communications team, they have produced online electronic versions – or G Books – of brochures and booklets that can be downloaded from the TCDC website.

Just over a year ago there were three full time staff in development including New Media Manager Corey Sewell, who is self-taught and from Paeroa. Guru had experienced 200 per cent growth in 2011, increasing staff from four to nine. Sean and James forecasted another 50 per cent growth in 2012-13, and has already more than doubled that.

“I’ve had to stop Sean selling,” says James. “The business has actually wanted us to grow faster than we have let it.”
To assist in the training and management of staff, James modified an e-learning module that the company developed for New Zealand Hockey, and now they’re selling that to Office Max and its branches nationwide.

Sean says the Coromandel remains a great place to live, work and play. He investigated contracting out work in cheaper labour markets such as India, where he said the prices were ‘fantastic’ but soon found out the pitfalls of working in opposing time zones with language barriers. He prefers to keep everything in-house and enjoy a beer on the deck on a Friday with his staff.

Regardless of growth, Thames will remain the company’s base as long as he is involved. “We’re confident one day we may have account managers and satellite offices around the world, that’s fine, but we never want developers outside of Thames.”


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