There’s no doubting IT people dwell in a world a lot of us don’t understand. Fiddling with foreign objects and speaking in foreign tongues, they are the unsung heroes of industry, calmly pulling off the impossible when computer and digital systems crash and cripple our daily lives.
However, there’s a new breed of IT specialists developing – a less mysterious and more effusive lot – at Stott Hoare, a leading supplier of technology to businesses and schools in Western Australia. The company’s CEO, Jim Loader, is combining remarkable technical knowledge with essential sales skills to create the perfect team needed to serve all his clients’ needs.
Jim Loader has decades of IT know-how
With three decades of experience working across the IT industry, more than half of them as a company director, Jim has witnessed monumental change since the days he began his career in the 80s selling enormous IBM personal computers to business. He has been with Stott Hoare for nearly 28 years, developing a company relied upon for having the latest in IT solutions, whether it’s serving a major corporation equipped with a large IT department or an SME run by stubborn technophobes.
So, which is more important: sales skills or technical knowledge? “Both,” Jim says. “Our salespeople will have had some sort of IT background and were probably looking for a career change and a way to use their knowledge outside of an IT department. Or they may be salespeople passionate about IT, who read IT magazines, who want to talk and learn about it, hear from others what’s new, and know every product or gadget emerging on the market. They enjoy watching their clients get a grasp of what they’re saying and find it very satisfying to guide and talk them through the process.”
Stott Hoare brings top-notch technology to clients
Stott Hoare’s partners read like a who’s who list in technology. Lenovo, Microsoft, Dell, HP, IBM, Cisco, Toshiba and VMware are among them, along with Apple, for whom the company is an authorised reseller. “We have clients who may be starting from scratch in technology and we have to direct them every step of the way,” Jim explains.
“We determine what software they will need to get the best out of their business. And because we enjoy excellent relationships with our partners and negotiate rather than playing them off against each other, we can guarantee our clients are getting the best products at the best price.
“Obviously, there has to be a lot of trust generated between us and our clients as they are not all technically minded. There are smaller SMEs who don’t have IT departments, or others who don’t want to be very involved and just want the technology up and running. Then there are those who are very interested to learn, or may have heard about some new technology and want to know more. Either way, our sales team has to be technically minded to help.”
A commitment to personal service
Stott Hoare’s commitment to a client doesn’t end once the technology is installed. The company is the first point of call if problems arise, or more simply and more often the case, if the client is experiencing teething problems.
“Because we know our clients intimately, what they are using and why they are using particular programs and software, we can usually have their issues fixed within hours,” says Jim. “We have a custom-built warehouse where we store millions of dollars worth of equipment and parts, so we have everything our clients need at our fingertips."
"That’s our major point of difference with our competitors who tend to steer their clients back to the manufacturer, which may not be able to deal with the problem for days, or weeks, if they don’t have the part in stock and have to order it from overseas.”
Jim’s commitment to personal service is what triggered his decision to join a company operating only in Western Australia; and with five children and five grandchildren involved in numerous activities, his sense of community is strong.
Strong connections to the WA community
Stott Hoare has supported the Western Australian Symphony Orchestra for more than 15 years, is a long-term fundraiser for Princess Margaret Hospital for Children, and supports Indigenous students from remote regions of Western Australia with the Future Footprints Program.
“I wanted to service the people of Western Australia and get to know them – not be part of a large multinational where business is just a number instead of a relationship,” he says. “My own mother motivated me. She went to a job interview, and when asked why she wanted the job, she just said she wanted to better herself. I’ve never forgotten that. I’ve also learned along the way to delegate. I was very much of the mindset that to get a job done, you had to do it yourself; I was always trying to grow the business on my own.
It was a hard lesson to learn, to let go, but I got there. Now I have people I trust implicitly to manage the business.
"I realised it was better to let others help you, to teach them as much as you can, then let them use their ideas so they can move things forward. “It was a hard lesson to learn, to let go, but I got there. Now I have people I trust implicitly to not only manage the business, but grow it for me, so eventually I can hand it over. Not yet, mind you.”
Trust, integrity & reliability
However, ask Jim what really matters most in business and he refers back to old-fashioned values – trust, integrity and reliability. And being able to add up in your head. “I remember, when I was about 10 and helping my father in our newsagency,” he says.
“We sold a lot of general goods, so a customer would come in wanting a paper, a packet of cigarettes, a sandwich, and I’d be standing there with the customer waiting in front and my father hovering behind me. I learned very quickly how to get the right answers from my head.”