It seems like the strt of a new era for local office equipment company Highland Copiers and Inverness Office Equipment - but it also seems like old times again.
The "new" is the companies base and showroom on Longman Drive Inverness along with a fresh new colour scheme, logo and website. "It feels like a new company - but one with the benefit of having over 400 customers" Highland Copiers managing director Mike Rae said.
Not that Highland Copiers is old - next month sees it marking its fourth anniversary. It shares its new premises with an even newer firm, Inverness Office Equipment which started trading in June last year.
However, the men behind the two companies have a much longer personal history and relationship together. Inverness Office Equipment founds, Willie Main has spent 35 years in the industry - 11 of them working alongside former Caley Thistle player Mike. Mike's own 15 years; experience is dwarfed by the company's most experience engineer, Iain Sutherland who has spent 43 years in the industry. Another 30 year veteran is sales account manager Trevor Stewart who has been working with Mike at Highland Copiers and is re-joining former colleage Willie in Inverness Office Equipment.
"Morag, Willie's wife used to work with us as well and she's also helping run the new office here. This means myself, Willie, Ian, Trevor and Morag all previously worked togeter. We are putting the band back together." Mike Laughed. "We are definately the new kids on the block but ones with a lot of experience. We particularly know what Highland businesses want. We also have the biggest growth percentage from a standing start and in the face of adversity to now having over 400 customers and growing fast in under four years is a great achievement"
Mike set up Highland Copiers after his previous employer was acquired by a nationally owned central belt firm. Believing there was still room in the north for a true local company that provided good service at a competitive price he adopted the motto "discover true local" and began selling copiers first in Elgin and then back to Inverness.
"If you want an ethical service contract with no hidden small print or penalty clauses, one that doesn't restrict you from walking away without penalty, uniquely we are the people to come to" Mike said. And when you phone, your call is always answered locally, You're not being put through to a faceless head office who asks you account and serial number. You will come straight through to someone here who knows you the customer. Highland Copiers Ltd was established in 2013 and filled the gap in the market to become the only locally owned photocopier supplier that directly employs its own service team. Highland copiers mow has clients from Thurso to Fort William and as far east as Aberdeen. Although Highland Copiers and Inverness Office Equipment remain two seperate companies, the two businesses complement each other, something relected by not only their coming together under one rood but in adopting a similar colour scheme and corporate look.
Highland copiers specialises in providing the prestigious and popular range of photocopiers Develop, a wholly owned subsidary of Konica Minota one of the best known and biggest photocopiers manufacturers in the world - and identical to Konica Minota's BizHub. Highland Copiers is also proud to be a dealer for globally recognised brand Samsung.
"These machines are not just copiers any more. They are network printers, document scanners and software solutions for any office. They have become so affordable we can now supply a full package from as little as £10 a week for people who are small to medium volume users however want the copy/prin/scan/fax facility all from one commercial machine." Mike said. "What makes us unique is that we supply coppiers, but we keep our overheadds low so that customers can keep their costs low as well. In essence we supply our machine and if it breaks we fix it, if you need toner, we supply it. If it needs to be connected online, we do that without a hidden IT charge The only thing they need to worry about is putting paper in the copier and you can paper from Inverness Office Equipment. Highland Copiers has now become the first Highland photocopier company to offer its customers the opportunity to order toner or log a call via its very own new app, but with our copiers not even that much effor is required. Our machines can actually email us when need a toner and other requirements, we then come and deliverit before you actually realise you eeded the consumable" Mike said.
With Mike handing the equipment, Willie is able to cater for any customer's other office needs with 23,000 stock items - ranging from pens and paper to furniture - through the online internet store at www.invernessofficeequipment.co.uk
"I saw the majority of office equipment was being bought from the internet, so I've set up as part of a buying group" Will explained. "the group has 250 memebers and we have a collective turnover of £400 million, so even though Inverness Office Equipment is a small business, we have tapped into that allowing us to be very competitive with our pricing and office stationery ordered by 5pm will be delivered by lunchtime the next day. I wanted to be different from our competitors and compete against the nationals".
The move into their new home seems to be working out well for Mike and Willie, with both companies recently taking on new staff in the way of Derek Bell at Highland Copiers Ltd and Trevor Stewart at Inverness Office Equipment Ltd, however both companies are still planning to expand and take on more new staff.
"It would be fair to say that since we moved in here together, we've found a huge increase in business" Willie said, while Mike has been delighted by the number of copiers sold, people choosing Highland Coppiers and support his customers have given him since moving into Longman Drive. "We've got ourselve to a stage where we warrant our own frontage and our own base," Mike added. "We're standing together and looking forward to the future."