I ALWAYS had ambitions to work hard and be successful from being a young age.
A memory which has always stuck with me is walking out of university following my graduation and admiring a beautiful Rolls-Royce parked by the kerb; the owner approached me and said: ‘You can't have jam today but you can have jam tomorrow.’
It’s a motto I’ve lived by since, to keep a goal in mind and work towards it.
After university, I started out working for myself repairing car radios and fixing amplifiers for pop groups but as every entrepreneur needs, I got my first break, a job programming and selling the early Commodore PET computers to businesses.
The PET was the PC of its time.
After a while, I parted ways with the company, but I realised no one was selling Commodores to the industrial sector in the North, so I started my own IT business Stack in 1979 selling Commodore PETs to businesses working in manufacturing and medical fields. Things just took off from there.
At first I ran the business from the living room of my end-terraced house in North Liverpool. Senior managers at ICI would call up to order technical products and they would tell my wife she would find them next to the mantelpiece in the dining room.
One year on, we were turning over £1m and had opened our first premises on Derby Road, employing more than 100 members of staff.
Everything ran smoothly on the technical side.
My interest in electronics combined with a love of computers gave me the in-depth knowledge I needed to give clients the right products and advice, and the business just grew and grew.
That said, I was a bit clueless on the business side of things and the secret of being a good entrepreneur is to acknowledge what your weaknesses are and take steps to correct them.
This can be either improving your own knowledge or in my case I brought people with the key business skills I needed into the firm, including my now wife, Dorothy, who is the better financial manager of the two of us.
In just a matter of a few years we became one of the big players in computer gaming and were behind things like the Stack Light Pen and Stack Light Rifle, created for the ZX Spectrum, Commodore 64, and the Commodore VIC-20, which came with well known games like shooting gallery and grouse shoot.
Over the years, as things changed in the industry, we became more focused on the commercial side of the business again, first providing the kit and advice businesses needed then when the “Cloud” took off, providing businesses with a range of IT and Cloud services.
Today we are the leading IT and Cloud services provider in the North West, working with major clients including international brands and premiership football clubs and we are still growing.
We have high expectations for growth over the coming years. Cloud services in particular is an area little understood and relatively untapped, particularly by SMES.
It’s going to be a big growth area in the coming years. Many firms haven’t realised the potential cost savings and benefits of hosting all their IT services on the Cloud, so there is a big, untapped market out there and huge opportunities for Stack.
In recent months we have already seen incredible growth, winning major new clients and brands and I’m excited to see what 2013 will bring both for us and Liverpool as a whole.
Jeff Orr, chief executive, Stack Data Solutions