South Africa’s foremost black empowered IT solutions provider, Aptronics, has formally celebrated its 20th Anniversary milestone – marking two decades since the company first began operating from the garage of founder and CEO, Anil Appie Pema in 1993.
Aptronics is one of South Africa’s most heart-warming success stories. Pema founded the company 20 years ago against the backdrop of Apartheid with no capital or formal tertiary education. Today, Aptronics generates almost half a billion Rand in revenue annually and employs over 140 staff members as well as an additional 220 within the Aptronics Group of Companies.
After acquiring the required qualifications, Pema’s career started at M&PD – an innovative IT company that operated in the mid 80’s. Three years later Pema was employed by Link Technologies to run its technical support department.
Showing business leadership qualities early in his career, Pema turned Link Technologies’ technical department cost centre into a profit generator in a short space of time, for which he was awarded a 1 % share of the business. With Link Technologies facing liquidation, Pema stayed on for 6 months without a salary simply to ensure that his customers received the service they were expecting. After the formal closure of Link, he set up a sole proprietorship in 1992 called ‘AppieCare Technologies’ with a previous work colleague, Kalpesh Naran.
“I took over the responsibility of fulfilling warranties for all companies that had been left stranded by Link Technologies,” explained Pema.
“Recognising our commitment and service principals, customers started asking us to provide them with additional solutions and services.”
This paved the way for Pema to build an enviable reputation for problem-solving and value added solutions in the midrange computing environment. In just one year AppieCare had outgrown its humble beginnings and Aptronics was born.
When discussing what it took for Aptronics to gain momentum and become a formidable player in the ICT industry, Pema adds, “Customer satisfaction, sound financial management and developing core personnel at the outset.”
“The key to the success of our business can be summed up in one phrase, which the Aptronics team chant as its guiding mantra: ‘The customer is king. Understand and then exceed customer expectations,’” he says.
Pema’s philosophy of investing in people has paid dividends. Over the past 20 years, helped by an emphasis on growing skills internally, Aptronics has a proud record of producing the very best in the field. The company has had minimal staff turnover since it was established all those years ago. “Our staff members are our family,” he adds.
Aptronics shares its success by looking to address imbalances from the past. This is demonstrated through social responsibility programs that include the provisioning of education bursaries to the less fortunate, participation in internships and work experience initiatives, and ensuring that BBBEE is not just a buzz word internally.
Staff are presented with and encouraged to take up opportunities that have seen drivers make the transition to stores management, service desk agents to financial administrators and student engineers achieving HP MasterASE certifications with MCITP or RHCE.
Looking to the future, Pema concluded: “We always want to exceed customer expectations. Our road map is to continue to look for smarter ways to deliver not just excellent service but, in addition, adding value by engaging technology and people with a clear strategy”.