BC Technologies: the business benefits of a Highlands and Islands move

How a lifestyle choice and a move to the Highlands and Islands turned out to be a savvy business decision for IT specialist Brendon Wallace and his company.

Office space is much cheaper here, and we also got rates relief, so that was very helpful. Recruitment has been easier and cheaper here, too. In London, you end up using an agency, which costs around 15-20% of the annual salary. That’s a lot of money, especially if they only stay with you for a while.

Brendon Wallace, founder and partner, BC Technologies

CUTTING-EDGE IT AND SECURITY SUPPORT

BC Technologies is a leading IT specialist that supports small to medium businesses with IT and security requirements. 

The company provides a comprehensive range of support, including cyber security, IT support, phone systems, network design, CCTV and video management. Clients range from professional services to leisure and construction, and BC Technologies supports businesses right across the UK.[

Founder Brendon Wallace started the company in London in 1994 from an office in Staines, just outside London. After spending up to six hours a day commuting, Brendon realised something needed to change.

He and his young family visited Scotland, realised they could make a good life there – and set about making it happen. Today, the company has its headquarters in Dunoon, Argyll, with a smaller office in London – and it’s proving to be a worthwhile move.

INVALUABLE SUPPORT

Brendon said, “We’d never heard of Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) before we moved up here. There wasn’t anything like it in London.

"But we’ve found their support invaluable in all sorts of ways,” says Brendon.

“In December last year we moved into a new HIE building in Dunoon, and it’s made a big difference to how we operate and function. It looks and feels very professional, and it’s been a way for us to up our game a bit.

“HIE has also supported us on the research and development side. For example, they helped us invest in researching technologies around cybercrime, and in running workshops and seminars to create awareness.

"We’re now certified Cyber Essentials Plus assessors – one of only a handful in Scotland and the only one on the west coast of Scotland. With new data protection rules coming into force in 2018, more and more companies need to prove they take it seriously.”

The highlands and Islands move

BC Technologies has been based in the Argyll region of the Highlands and Islands for over 10 years now. Brendon has found cheaper office space and costs of recruiting, along with HIE support and a much shorter commute, to be among the many benefits.

“It was definitely the right choice for us,” says Brendon. “At the time, we had a very young family, and I barely saw them.

"I only lived 45 miles from work, but if I wasn’t on the M1 by 6am I had no chance of getting to the office by 9am. I was shattered at the weekend, and then it all started over again on Monday.

"We looked at house prices close to the office in Staines, and a comparable house was just a ridiculous price.

"We’re quite impulsive, so when we came to visit Scotland, we noticed the house prices in the estate agent window and couldn’t believe it. We started to look into it. Could we live up here? Could I commute?

"We ended up buying a lovely house in Innellan, Argyll, with great views over the Clyde. For the next couple of years, I stayed in Staines during the week, and flew home for weekends. I spent more quality family time despite living away during the week.”

Two years’ later and with the arrival of another child, Brendon made the decision to set up a division in Scotland and move full-time to Argyll:

“I was a bit drained by the commute, so we decided it made sense for all kinds of reasons to move the administration of the company up here to Scotland. We kept a smaller office in London, which is really a base for engineers, but our main premises are here now. Office space is much cheaper here, and we also got rates relief, so that was very helpful."

Success with recruitment

“Recruitment has been easier and cheaper here, too. In London, you end up using an agency, which costs around 15-20% of the annual salary. That’s a lot of money – especially if they only stay with you for a short while.

"Here we took out a half-page advert for £80 in the local paper – and we got some excellent CVs. We also took on a IT engineer who literally knocked on our door looking for an IT job, and he’s still with us now.

"It’s a different approach to what we’re used to. We’ve also taken on apprentices, which has worked really well for us.

The information superhighway

Brendon continued, “Our biggest challenge was getting superfast broadband, but we got it in place about three years ago, and it’s helped us a lot.

"So much more can be done remotely, and we’re able to offer many more services, like voice-over internet protocol (VOIP) telephony.

"I can also have video conference meetings with my team down south, which is only possible because of this high-speed connectivity. Now we can pretty much do everything we could in London – but our costs are less.

“Moving here was first and foremost a lifestyle decision for me, though the business benefits have turned out to be excellent too. It’s been great for the whole family – we have excellent schooling here and it’s a good quality of life. We’ve been here 10 years now and it’s worked
well for us.

"It’s a relaxed pace of life, but it’s really easy to get to where we need to go, whether that’s elsewhere in the Highlands and Islands, into Glasgow or Edinburgh or over to Glasgow Airport to fly to London. I go down to London maybe every few months – and, including ferry, plane and taxi, it only takes me three hours to get to the office, door to door.”

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It’s a relaxed pace of life, but it’s really easy to get to where we need to go, whether that’s elsewhere in the Highlands and Islands, into Glasgow or Edinburgh or over to Glasgow Airport to fly to London. I go down to London maybe every few months – and, including ferry, plane and taxi, it only takes me three hours to get to the office, door to door.

Brendon Wallace, founder and partner, BC Technologies