In the Summer of 1998, two promising business people – following their intuition – put their livelihoods on the line, and launched SCS. A quarter-century later, and SCS Technology Solutions is going stronger than ever.
To commemorate 25 incredible years – the ups, the downs, and the dramas, we’re looking back on the journey that lead them to this significant milestone.
Born and raised in Newcastle upon Tyne, Jerry (Managing Director of SCS Technology Solutions Ltd) grew up in Byker, made famous of course by Byker Grove and the illustrious Ant and Dec. This birthplace gives him the official ‘True Geordie’ status!
With his dad a Vicar, and Mum working as a school teacher – money was tight, and pocket money minimal. However, this did nothing but fuel Jerry and his younger brother’s entrepreneurial spirit.
From picking wild berries to digging for coal and bagging it up – selling to their convenient captive market – their father’s congregation and parish – the brothers soon got a taste for business.
An early taste for business
In the subsequent years, Jerry proved unstoppable. In every situation, he saw the untapped potential for business. For example, nearby, a housing estate was in development. With multitudes of builders on site each day, this presented the perfect opportunity for profit-making through the glass bottle deposit scheme that soft drink companies ran at the time. For each returned bottle the companies would refund 5p – a money-making opportunity for Jerry and his brother – who were returning bottles abandoned by the builders.
In 1980, at the age of 16, Jerry was about to lose not only his congregational ‘cash cow’ but life as he knew it. His father had accepted a new role as Industrial Chaplain for the Lincoln Diocese, and the whole family relocated to Lincoln. Shocking news for a teenager with a solid group of friends, and a freshly acquired taste for the pub.
From here came qualifications, all the fun of young adulthood, and Jerry’s first ‘proper’ job . . . as a Clerical Assistant in Lincoln City Council’s Building Control Department.
Here, he spent six years, taking roles in the Income Section, Payroll and then finally the Accountancy Section where he qualified as an Accounting Technician.
In 1990 he moved to the County Council and spent eight years there, mainly in Accountancy and Payroll departments and in the end heading up a team of 30 people paying 40,000 people a month.
Entrepreneurship in the blood
In the years leading up to SCS, Jerry discovered the world of Multi-Level Marketing. Over six months, Jerry built a crew of about 25 people and a few of these recruited people onto their teams. While it wasn’t quite the success he’d had in mind, it certainly worked, and more importantly, it granted the fortuitous meeting of Simon Hickson.
Jerry’s journey thus far, combined with a good dose of entrepreneurial spirit; forged the perfect springboard for the birth of SCS.
1995 – the year it all began.
At this time Jerry had climbed the ladder to become Quality Manager at LCC, where he was responsible for rolling out Investors in People. Simon was working as a Fireman based at South Park.
One night, spotting a 286 computer for sale in the Lincolnshire Echo’s Classifieds section – an idea was born. The computer – worth at least £400, was on sale at a bargain £200. Jerry and Simon bought it on the spot and promptly listed it in the Echo for the following week. The computer sold immediately, and at the asking price.
Over the following weeks, the pair embarked on an avid quest for PC’s where they knew they could make a sale profit. Every time they found a new model, it sold within days, and the phone rang off the hook with people wanting more.
Excited by this new venture and aware of the extraordinary opportunity unfolding, the pair – frustrated at the limitations of the local paper – began to look further afield.
Buried treasure in Norfolk
Chancing upon an advert in computer magazine Micro Mart, luck was about to shine on them, someone in Norfolk was advertising bulk quantities of second-hand PC’s – they had the assets required to feed Lincolnshire’s demand.
Defying the epic journey from Lincoln to Holt, Jerry and Simon discovered a wall-to-wall container of second-hand PC’s; the stock they required, and the gateway to SCS. Loading up the car with as many as they could cram in, they returned to Lincoln, delighted.
This journey was made every week for the next 3-4 months, each time ferrying 8-10 units; with weekends dedicated to cleaning them up, and installing software from floppy disc.
From here on in business exploded. An advert ran continuously in the Echo, and every night one, two or some nights, even three sets of people would come round to buy them. With a sell rate of 96%, they were proving to be a huge success, and suddenly things took off big time.
By 1997 the pair were turning over nearly £25K a month having achieved £97K turnover in the first 12 months. And all this alongside full-time jobs. Customers began asking for parts, repairs and new PC’s. Never ones to shy away from a challenge, Jerry and Simon stepped up to the plate, and it didn’t take long before they were meeting all demands.
As a company, they established themselves into the new PC-build arena where margins were much better than second hand. By the end of the year, business was so good that they had to halt advertising as they couldn’t keep up with demand.
Moving on up
Back then, the internet was in its infancy, and social media didn’t yet exist. Word of mouth was growing the business like wildfire. Paper leaflets and pricelists were also earning a positive response.
Selling from Jerry’s garage, people would turn up – and based on good reviews and trust earned so far – they would part with large sums of money, on good faith.
1997 came to an end, and the fledgling company, run from a garage and managed while holding down full-time jobs, had turned over an incredible £420,000.
1998 – crunch time
By ’98, it was time for some big decisions; to leave their comfortable and stable full-time jobs or dive into this new foray and take advantage of the demand.
For both involved, this was an easy decision; they would give up the day job. A significant influence for Jerry in this move was the recent death of his father in law. Very sadly, at only 56 he was diagnosed and died of cancer. This tragedy had rocked the family. Simultaneously, the event had shown Jerry the harsh reality of life’s limited timespan. Jerry knew that opportunities such as this needed grabbing with both hands.
In May of ‘98, after persuading his risk-averse wife, Jerry quit his day job. Simon followed four months later. And, in epic style, their third year turnover delivered a whopping £980,000!
So that’s £97,000 in the first year, £420,000 in the second and now £980,000 in the third the majority of which was achieved by two blokes working part-time from a converted garage.
Time for change
However, with five men now crammed into a tiny converted garage, things needed a shakeup. Enter Adam, Jerry’s younger brother and long-time partner in crime from the blackberry picking days.
At that time Adam was working for Price Waterhouse Coopers in their Corporate Finance team. Well respected by his peers, he was proving a brilliant businessman. Having watched the growth of the business, he saw something special was emerging and wanted in – Jerry welcomed him with open arms.
With Jerry a salesperson at heart and Simon a technical specialist, neither were adept at setting up a “proper business”. With procedures and rules, they just wanted to grow the business and look after customers. Bringing a business mind to the table, Adam was the missing piece of the puzzle; and in late 1999 he managed their move to Crofton Close on the Allenby Industrial Estate.
The Allenby days
In March of 2000, the business expanded by another four people, and they moved from a measly 200 square feet of space, into 3,500 square foot of factory space – previously known as the Courtholds factory outlet building. Although more significant than they required, Adam had negotiated a brilliant rental agreement, and the threesome had BIG plans.
Now a team of 10, in proper business premises, the team were feeling confident. In a short 18 months, Simon and Jerry had grown the business at a rapid rate and they were delighted and excited in equal measure.
Moving with the times
Although they had amassed a strong following of business customers by this time, retail still accounted for some 40% of the turnover. Noting that PC’s would soon become a commodity, sold in big-name supermarkets – the team foresaw that margins on hardware would decline and hence stopped all retail sales to focus on business.
And it turned out that those predictions were correct. Value-added and support services to businesses were the future of SCS.
Trials and tribulations
The following two years presented two events – both challenging and both very different. The first was the economic difficulties following the Millennium and the mass hysteria of the ‘Millenium Bug’ – a doomsday theory which never eventuated. And the second, a dramatic fire which took place on the 7th of December 2002, wiping out their entire offices.
However, with sound disaster recovery plans in place – SCS rose above both ordeals to emerge more robust than ever before. And the rest, as they say, is history!
Offering professional IT advice, SCS Technology helps businesses to get the best from their IT investment, ensuring that it stays resilient, and securely harnesses business benefits.
In addition to this, they offer IT support. Operating professionally and efficiently, SCS has amassed a huge following of satisfied and repeat clients. Delivering exceptional customer service with confidence, SCS has proved reliable time and time again and firmly planted themselves on the map as the go-to company for IT solutions in Lincoln and surrounding areas.
Proud of their story and committed to continuing in this unparalleled level of service – this year the team at SCS Technology Solutions celebrate 25 years of adventure, emotion and business success. Here’s to 25 more!