Photography By ISHNA JACOBS & PETER BURGE
Daring to be different, 10 years ago a regional IT solutions company named itself after a fruit; a fruit with immense health benefits and which thrives in our fair clime. A decade on, BlueBerry is an iconic brand and a multiple award-winning Te Tau Ihu (top of the South Island) business success story. Healthy and definitely thriving.
Looking back on the first 10 years of this character-filled business, founding director Richard Butler enjoys a well-deserved moment of pride and reflection.
The doors opened in 2008 to a team of four with international experience working for large corporates, such as DLA, Goldman Sachs and GlaxoSmithKline. The vision was to deliver a customer-first experience, making big-business IT know-how relevant to local small-medium businesses.
Regional recognition came fast to this young disrupter, with BlueBerry winning a Chamber of Commerce Emerging Business Award in its foundation year. The vision was becoming a reality.
Meanwhile, as early adopters of Cloud technologies, BlueBerry gained national recognition as one of Microsoft New Zealand’s most successful early partners in the new world of Office 365.
Building on its early award success and embedded professionalism, BlueBerry was recognised again by the Chamber in 2011 for Service Excellence – an award BlueBerry take the most pride in. “Service excellence was always our primary focus,” says Richard, “We care about our customers and take ownership of our work, so to be recognised as a regional service leader is hugely satisfying.”
Customer Jodie Keenan from Richmond Office Products Depot articulates how BlueBerry’s customer service works for her. “BlueBerry has been part of our team for seven years and quite simply we couldn’t do without them. No matter what happens, they calmly help and are always available. I can’t stress enough how good their support is, they are honest and reliable; we enjoy working with them. The service they provide is as important as the people who provide it; they are a good bunch of guys.”
However, Richard was one to never rest on laurels, knowing from the start that as you grow it is important to take stock, take a breath and look ahead, making sure your growth, exciting as it is, doesn’t undo all the good done.
Having experimented in local, national, and even international, opportunities the focus was to be ‘The Region’s Favourite IT Provider’. The Marlborough office opening in 2014 cemented this position, as Blueberry continued to deliver exceptional service and client experience across Te Tau Ihu.
Richard says consideration was also given to what should be core business and how best to deliver innovation to the company’s wide and diverse customer base. The expansion of the well-rounded in-house team and the formation of an extensive network of external specialists in complementary areas were key. “It is tempting to be all to all people, especially in the regions, but it is more honest to recognise your strengths and weaknesses, and then seek the strengths of others to ensure you deliver a service with integrity,” Richard says.
Meanwhile, the company arrived at a scale where it could demonstrate its value of ‘care’ in a tangible way through generous wide-ranging community support, such as for the Nelson Giants, Trolley Derby, Nelson Arts Festival, Nelson Tasman Hospice, SafeGuarding Children Initiative and Big Brothers Big Sisters.
With Nelson Tasman and Marlborough teams contributing to business and the community, BlueBerry was again recognised by the Chamber as the region’s Medium-sized Business of the Year in 2014.
Now, as the company turns 10 this year it is time to once again take stock, breathe and look ahead to what the next decade might bring. Richard says BlueBerry continues to plan for growth while retaining a dedicated interest in looking after those that have helped on the journey so far. Across the two offices the team of 10 remains 100 percent committed to being ‘the region’s favourite IT partner’.
Richard acknowledges the future is both exciting and somewhat daunting as technologies such as Artificial Intelligence, Augmented Reality and the Internet of Things present challenges and opportunities.
But, Richard says that the continual changes in technology have no impact on the two fundamental principles established on day one – “There is no more important person in our business than our team member and, there is no more important person to our business than our customer.”
Newly appointed general manager Allan Willoughby agrees technology shouldn’t lead the way, no matter how exciting it sounds.
“Our customers’ business needs and goals come first, and it is up to us to know everything about the technology available to help them achieve those goals,” Allan says. “To be honest, it is our customers that get us up in the morning, of course with the technology that can help them in our minds.”
Jodie Keenan says BlueBerry’s IT recommendations always match her business’s needs. “They make suggestions in our best interests, but they don’t push it. It is up to us to take up their recommendation or not, but they are always spot on. They are a great IT match with our business.”
Allan has observed a growing maturity of IT strategies amongst small to medium size businesses, such as Richmond Business Equipment. “No longer do savvy business people consider a computer as just a means to an end. Now they are looking to the applications delivered by technology to provide them with a competitive edge or point of difference in their business,” Allan says.
“To deliver that edge, we are connected directly to global leaders such as Microsoft, HP Enterprise, Dropbox for Business and Fortinet, along with local specialist providers,” Allan says. “These connections serve our customers in a really powerful way. You’ve got to love the feeling of making a difference every day, and we do!”
So let’s take our hats off and wish this big-hearted, thriving company a very happy next 10 years in business. And if you think your enterprise can benefit from Blueberry, call 03 548 4923 (Nelson) or 03 577 9530 (Blenheim) – they’d be only too happy to help.