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17 December 2009 Lexel wins Windows 7 partner competition. Auckland IT infrastructure solutions provider and Microsoft Gold Partner Lexel Systems has won a Microsoft partner competition for upgrading internal PC's to Windows 7.

Lexel CEO Noel Simpson says it was a great opportunity to accelerate our internal skills for not only the technical team involved in the upgrade, but for the entire company as users of Windows 7.

It's important that we had full hands-on experience of the product before recommending it to our trusting customers. Prior to the company-wide upgrade we ran a pilot with Windows 7 Release Candidate (a pre-release beta copy) for some months, and were very impressed with the product.

 Lexel GM of Services Geoff Trask says the internal project provided valuable intellectual property around Windows 7 implementations. All of our delivery teams from Professional Services, Project Management, Managed Services and Technical Services were involved to ensure maximum knowledge was gained, and to ensure Lexel's customers can leverage this going forward.

Lexel won the 'large reseller' category and was up against NZ's largest resellers. Over 80% of the organisation's PC's had to be upgraded prior to the official release date of Windows 7.
3 August 2009 Lexel Systems finalist for Microsoft 'Reseller of the Year' Lexel makes finalists' list for Reseller of the Year
Auckland, 3 August 2009 - Auckland IT infrastructure solutions provider and Microsoft Gold Partner Lexel Systems has been selected as one of three finalists vying for Microsoft Reseller of the Year.

Lexel CEO Noel Simpson says ongoing sales and technical training has advanced Lexel's delivery, particularly SharePoint and Server customer solutions. He says improvements are reflected in company performance, with Microsoft related revenues growing 28 percent, year-on-year.

In its submission Lexel highlighted two significant milestones: the first New Zealand sale of Essential Business Server; and the first local deployment of Microsoft’s new licensing program Open Level C.

Work for carbon spar design and engineering firm Southern Spars was also spotlighted. There, Lexel spearheaded a Microsoft licensing restructure and SharePoint implementation. The upshot saw Southern Spars invited to participate in a worldwide Server 2008 R2 a Windows 7 early adopter program, focusing on Direct Access, Hyper VR2 and Bitlocker.
30 July 2009 Chris Simpson appointed to Defence Industry Committee NZ (DICNZ) Auckland, 30 July 2009 - Chris Simpson, Lexel Systems executive chairman and owner, has been appointed to DICNZ (Defence Industry Committee of NZ). DICNZ acts as a conduit between the NZ Minister of Defence and industry, and provides the Minister advice in this area.


Chris Simpson Says says "I'm very pleased to be appointed to DICNZ. Being ex army, including serving abroad, and having spent the last 15 years working with Defence as a supplier, has equipped me with an in-depth knowledge and experience of Defence needs, and the industry in general. I look forward to applying this experience and leveraging my network to advance the Defence Industry in NZ and enable Defence to get more from Industry, and to help the Minister on other projects as needed."
22 June 2009 Lexel succession puts son in driver's seat Noel Simpson appointed CEO; founder Chris Simpson becomes executive chairman
Auckland, 18 June 2009 - Lexel Systems (formerly Computer Brokers) founder Chris Simpson has been succeeded by son Noel Simpson, who has been appointed CEO.

Noel assumes overall day-to-day management of the New Zealand owned IT infrastructure solutions provider his father Chris founded in 1987.

In his new executive chairman role Chris will provide planning and governance oversight, and selected customer, vendor and project activity. Noel joined the business in 1992 and most recently held the position of general manager.

Chris says the changeover is part of an expansion strategy, which will also see the near future appointment of independent directors to help achieve a $50 million revenue goal by 2012.

"Noel's promotion to CEO is mostly about recognising the gradual change of leadership that has occurred over the last seven years, rather than any radical shift," Chris says.

Noel will work closely with Lexel's management team, including national services manager Geoff Trask, financial controller Chris Lambourne, and a soon-to-be appointed national sales manager.

Chris Simpson founded Computer Brokers in 1987. Last year it was renamed Lexel Systems, reflecting a reorganisation of the company’s product and consulting-based capabilities, and a growing IT services business, which now contributes close to 30 percent of Lexel Systems' $30-plus million revenues.

Portables Plus exits IT; enter Lexel
Auckland, 24 July 2009 - Auckland IT infrastructure solutions provider Lexel is taking on Portables Plus IT customers as the one-time laptop specialist focuses on building its four Digital Mobile franchises.
Portables Plus managing director Tony Fitzgerald says the recent spotlight on 3G had spurred new interest in mobile devices and was behind the decision to pull back from traditional IT.

"With handheld devices redefining the centre of the digital universe we're putting all our energy behind our Digital Mobile franchises. We're very excited about the success and growth of Digital Mobile, especially the new Vodafone services, and this is where we have to focus," Fitzgerald says.

Lexel CEO Noel Simpson says the agreement adds a variety of SMB and education accounts to its customer portfolio. The handover also adds one former Portables Plus staff member to Lexel's sales ranks.

"We've got big growth ambitions and this agreement is another step in that direction. We're now talking to those customers, putting names to faces and getting them up to speed with our offerings," Simpson says.
5 May 2009 Lexel partners with Kiwihost for continued focus on customer services and communications skills Famous businessman Roger Staubach once said: "There are no traffic jams along the extra mile."

When a company which has 85 plus staff, turns over more than $30 million a year and has been in business for 22 years, they might be forgiven for resting on their laurels – but for Albany based IT business solutions company, Lexel Systems, success has only served as an incentive to keep pushing the bar.

 Committed to 'delivering excellence in IT business solutions', Lexel recently rebranded from Computer Brokers, and took time out of their busy schedule to introduce customer service training to 20 of their frontline staff including helpdesk and onsite engineers.
Technical Operations manager, Richard Lute, said the company wanted to give staff the motivation and tools to communicate better with customers.
"They are already good, but exceptional is the benchmark, and strong communication skills are the key."

"Most of our team are young, average age is 24 years, with a strong technical background. We felt that while Lexel is big enough to provide the depth and certainty our customers require (in IT solutions consulting, design, procurement, implementation and support services) we're not too big to offer dedicated one-on-one personal service that sets us apart and above the competition."

Serving customers from small, medium and large enterprises - in New Zealand and Australia - Lexel is committed to improving their clients' relationship.
"You need strong communication, attitude and relationship skills to achieve that goal," says Richard. "It's in the interests of strong client relationships that we demonstrate sound customer service and communication skills."

The 20 participants attended the internal Advanced Customer Services workshop which was split over two and a half days and, even though attendees comprised a broad mix of people with varying skills, roles and ages, everybody said they came away with valuable skills.
"Our People have learned from it. They are more 'aware' of customers," says Richard, adding it is something Lexel will definitely do again. "People particularly enjoyed the examples that were provided."

Key subject areas include:

• Identify professional qualities in service providers.

• Customer types and what they expect in the way of service.

• Your service attitude.

• Communication and can-do language.

• Internal customer - support and commitment.

• Developing customer loyalty.

• Identifying and handling customer concerns.

• Developing a customer service profile.
November 28 2008 Lexel owners talk about succession to NZ Business magazine Auckland IT services company Lexel Systems is a family firm that provides valuable lessons in succession, reinvention, customer service and above all, business leadership.

Story by Glen Baker, NZ Business Magazine.

You can tell there is a special bond between Chris Simpson, founder of Lexel Systems, and his son Noel, the general manager.

It is a very special father-son relationship forged not just outside the business, but also within the firm’s four walls over a number of years.

The catalyst for Lexel's special senior management team came with Chris's sudden diagnosis of cancer ten years ago, which meant that overnight his son would have to take on the day to day running of the business – then known as Computer Brokers. With his Dad given just six months to live, this was time for Noel to step up to the mark. At just 27 years of age, and with a staff of 20 and a multi-million dollar turnover to oversee, Noel knew it was sink or swim time. But Chris had no reservations and is proud of how his son performed at that stressful time.

"Noel had already proven himself to me and family, as well as to our customers and suppliers."

It was always Chris's intention for Noel to eventually take over the business, right from the early days. "Of course the cancer forced the issue – it completely changed the equation for me."

For Noel, taking on the management role was indeed a little scary to begin with. "I had always been strong in terms of operational matters, but I’ll admit that I struggled with the whole leadership issue." But he agrees with Chris that leadership can be learnt.

"There are rules, and if you follow them you will become a leader."

Noel has also learnt that growing the business is about developing a key group of people around you. "You need several personality types to create a great team – if you surround yourself with a whole bunch of ‘mini-me’s’ then you’re doomed to failure," he says. “If I tried to control all areas of the business myself I’d only be frustrated and extended beyond my core capabilities. Better to step back and let your people grow, which in turn lifts the business."

Leadership is also about the fine art of delegation, adds Chris. "And that ability to sit back while things go wrong, long enough so people learn their lessons. Also, realise that you’ll make decisions and sometimes they may be wrong."

Chris’s illness (from which he has fully recovered) and Noel’s subsequent ‘baptism by fire’ proved to be just one of many challenges the company has had to overcome in its 22 years.

The IT market has developed enormously since Chris first got started writing spreadsheet software for the Lotus platform in pre-Windows days. While Noel was still at school and happily playing on his Commodore 64 PC, Chris was heavily into the 'science of spreadsheets' – writing programmes that shaved hours off reporting times. With the ’87 stockmarket crash came redundancy and Chris was forced to go into business for himself.

"I left my job Friday and opened for business the following Monday. I opened up the Yellow Pages, and got my first job. Then one day someone rang me, and I’ve never used the Yellow Pages again," he recalls. "Not long after, a client said to me 'how about sourcing the PC and printer for me too', and before you know it we were responsible for the whole IT spend of clients."

The business grew to 12 staff and an eight million dollar turnover, while still based in Chris's basement/garage ("the neighbours were very understanding") and he was also running one of two authorised Lotus tutoring centres in Auckland.

Steady growth of the business eventually necessitated the purchase of some land in Albany in 2000 and the construction of a building, which has since been tripled in size. For its first six years Computer Brokers was mostly services and training based, until procurement eventually took over.

More recently, as the IT industry has become more commoditised and consolidated, clients have looked for a more ‘total solution’ approach to their IT infrastructure. "The IT industry has traditionally been one that over-promises and under delivers, and today Lexel is very much outcome based," says Noel.

"In the past three to four years there have been major technology improvements in bandwidth and management software. This means some 90 percent of traditional outages are now avoidable. Our monitoring system will ‘touch base’ with a client’s server every 15 seconds, basically checking to see that everything’s OK."

This centralised, remote monitoring means an 80 percent reduction in on-site work, says Noel, and monthly reports keep clients informed on any action taken and the current state of their system’s health. It’s all about being proactive to pre-empt any potential IT disasters.
A new identity

September 2008 was the company’s most recent major milestone as it went through a rebranding exercise from Computer Brokers to Lexel Systems (Lexel is a play on the words excel and excellence). The move has been a long time coming, with Chris admitting that the original name was really only a short-term solution which happened to stick for the next 22 years. Chris and Noel engaged outside help to mastermind the project, and they agree that the whole relaunching exercise has been hugely beneficial.

"It forced us to justify who we are and what we’re trying to be," says Noel. "It also helped us to identify which part of the market we wanted to own and send out the message about our new services capability. We are now selling solutions for business continuity."

 Noel has hung signs throughout the building reminding staff of the new “external brand essence”: delivering exceptional IT experiences.

Today the company has 80 staff delivering solutions around New Zealand and the Pacific, a flexible business plan (which Chris calls “a living document”) and remains true to its original creed of ‘the customer is always right’.
Father and son have learnt some valuable lessons while moving the business forward – such as the importance of protecting your reputation, being aware of the company’s financial position, and taking a conservative approach on cash. Resist the temptation to spend before the profits are there, they say. Chris and Noel have also learnt how to work in tandem, with Chris now able to step back and enjoy international travel on a fairly regular basis.

"If things get a bit heated between us, I just encourage Chris to take another holiday," quips Noel. A lesson for all bosses, says Chris, "is to realise that your way may not be the only way. I’ve learnt to bite my tongue." 
His other tips on succession include the need to step back from the business and let go; the need to define each other’s roles and responsibilities within the company; and the need to progressively delegate more responsibility to your successor.

Four years after handing over the reins to Noel, Chris says he woke up one morning, realised he'd beaten the cancer, and was tempted to get back into it.
"But then I realised there was no reason to go back. It was time to put my feelings in my back pocket and get on with other things. Besides, I’d paid my dues – it was time to reward myself."

Part of that reward is hosting Lexel’s regular reward trips for clients. Meanwhile the way forward for Lexel Systems has been set out in clear goals. "It's a highly competitive market, there is still consolidation going on, so acquisitions are always a possibility," says Noel.

A $50 million turnover is in their sights – and they intend to do this with a client base of all size companies, and a backbone of trust.

“Trust is what got us to where we are today, and we’ll never forget it," says Noel. "It’s even possible to gain the trust of your competitors," adds Chris. He regularly lunches with an industry peer group and shares solutions to common problems. "A problem shared is a problem halved," he says. 
It's just the kind of attitude that has got this family business to where it is today.
September 22 2008 Lexel in the News: Virtualisation promises instant recovery  By Darren Greenwood.

Virtualisation has been largely responsible for cracking open the market for back-up and business continuity, argues Jake van der Vyver, enterprise business development manager for Lexel (formerly Computer Brokers).

Virtualisation, and that’s mostly VMware, is the main driver of SAN storage uptake, he says. And the two combined have unleashed new possibilities for back-up and DR.

“What was a difficult process is now much easier thanks to the virtualisation of both the server and storage layers. At the click of a mouse, you are able to take an image of an entire environment and ship it to another location, creating an instant back-up copy of production data,” says van der Vyver.

“The traditional approach involves taking a snapshot of your entire server infrastructure - every night. But, even that doesn’t mean you can recover your servers. What VMware means is that you can still manage your back-ups in the same fashion, but you can do it offline and recover it on any other server in the VMware environment. It is totally hardware independent.”

“Virtualisation also overcomes the struggle to recover data on heterogeneous infrastructure. The VMware image is recoverable on anything in the VMware environment.”

Lexel, an Auckland-based systems integrator, says virtualisation promises instant recovery, whereas systems recovery can take several days.

“It is here the relationship between server virtualisation and consolidated storage is made clear,” van der Vyver continues.

“By consolidating storage, you create a pool of disks that can be sliced and diced at the VMware layer, rather than the operating system’s layer. Previously, you either had to have virtualised SANs — very expensive — or directly connect servers to storage and manage individual relationships. So, management is vastly simplified, to a one-to-one relationship between storage capacity and what servers demand.”

However, when it comes to back-up, end users need to think about recovery too. Technology allows just about anything, but organisations need to define their needs, their recovery point and recovery-time objectives, which will help determine what solution they need.

Lexel says that they should consider the skills available to run the solution — be this inside or outside the organisation — including that of service providers.
Article courtesy of Computerworld.
14 August 2008 September reveal for revamped Computer Brokers identity By Louis van Wyk.

Computer Brokers will unveil its new name and branding next month.

The company is changing the name as it believes that after 21 years, Computer Brokers no longer accurately reflects the business and has even become a roadblock to securing larger contracts.

The company will reveal its new identity to a staff-only conference on Waiheke Island at the start of September, which will be followed by an external launch.

The change is long overdue as the current name does not represent the services capability the company has added over the past three to four years, says general manager Noel Simpson.

“We’ve known for many years that the Computer Brokers name, particularly the Brokers component, did not truly reflect the business we were or the value that we offered. It has been a problem for some time.


The Brokers part of the name creates the perception of a company that brokers in cheap or second-hand products and has been holding the company back, particularly with larger customers, says Simpson. “As we start to solution more and more [the name] continues to be a roadblock for sign-off within our larger customers. You are no longer dealing with the IT manager or even the CFO – it is now going up to the board and they are going: ‘Computer Brokers is selling you a $300,000 solution? Why are you dealing with a broker of product’?”

Even some customers have been actively lobbying for the name change, says Simpson. “Even though from their perspective we provide an excellent service, when they go to put approvals through their business, the name does not really represent the type of work we are doing.”

Computer Brokers has engaged the services of branding consulting house Brando to manage the name change. “We’ve been using their framework to analyse who we are, who we want to become and how that relates to the brand.”

As part of the process, Computer Brokers has also surveyed a number of customers to gauge perceptions of the company and to learn what it is doing well and where it can improve, says Simpson. “They gave us some very interesting and constructive feedback. The majority were very happy with the service we provide, but [said] there were some things holding us back and certainly the branding was one.”

Customers also perceived the company, which now has 70 staff, to be smaller than it in fact is, says Simpson. “They didn’t really understand how much we have grown over the past few years and that we were a lot bigger than the name represented.”

7 April 2008 CB Sells out of subsidiary Enterprise IT, and gains new Project Management division New Zealand computing infrastructure integrator and services provider Lexel is leading IT industry’s drive to sustainability, joining the Sustainability Business Network and undertaking an internal benchmarking audit to build on its green achievements.

Lexel general manager Noel Simpson said the company had progressed well beyond industry "lip service" and instituted a raft of measures minimising waste and environmental impacts.

"Green is a popular bandwagon, so it's important that sustainable-minded buyers put hard questions to vendors to sift wagon-riders from the real thing," Simpson said.
He said Lexel had made sustainability a top priority, spurring a review that had resulted in new company wide practises and ongoing measurement.

As well as formalising recycling programmes for computing equipment and paper, the company has embraced virtualisation both in-house and client-side to improve energy efficiency, and remote support and work practices minimising travel. Changes to lighting and air conditioning have reduced electricity consumption, and a supply chain policy top-lists vendors operating credible recycling programs.

Simpson said Lexel is currently investigating a carbon neutrality commitment, which would include a vehicle fleet upgrade to hybrid or diesel company vehicles.
Lexel's progress contrasts with recent research published by IBM and the New Zealand Business Council for Sustainable Development, showing that Zealand businesses are making changes that result in quick energy use reductions, but only a fifth have a formal sustainable development strategy.

The study also found the number of IT managers who believed local businesses had to be more sustainable to have continued success in the global economy, was less than their business counterparts (55 against 65 percent). Also, 26 percent of IT managers didn’t think it was possible to reduce emissions from IT equipment without compromising performance.

According to the study 47 percent of local firms surveyed had introduced recycling schemes, 38 percent monitored energy use and 34 percent used energy-efficient lighting. However, only 21 percent said they had a formal plan for sustainable development.

About the Sustainable Business Network
The Sustainable Business Network is a forum for businesses interested in sustainable development practice. It promotes sustainable practice in New Zealand and supports businesses on the path to becoming sustainable, linking businesses and providing a forum for the exchange of ideas and experiences. Sustainable Business is the integration of economic growth, social equity and environmental management, both for now and for the future.

Environmental Quality: To implement practices and procedures that go beyond compliance through the adoption of proactive strategies to restore and enhance the environment in which we live, work and play.
Social Equity: To operate as a good corporate citizen, encourage respect and dignity to all stakeholders by developing mutually beneficial partnerships with local community stakeholders.

Economic Prosperity: To undertake business management so as to support long-term economic growth for New Zealand.
Corporate Governance & Ethics: To conduct business in an ethical manner and to seek to do business with companies, which adopt the same principles.

Why Sustainable Development Makes Good Business Sense:

• Being a responsible employer ensures you attract a committed workforce
• Builds community, supplier and regulatory relationships

• Using resources efficiently has a positive impact on the bottom line

• Increases competitiveness through innovation

• Reduced environmental impact and associated costs
SBN is proudly
supported by its Cornerstone Sponsor, the Ministry for Environment.
8 February 2008 Storage Works award for Lexel By Hamish Barwick.

HP has recognised Lexel as a top performer in the Storage Works volume category of its Partner Connect Achievers Club. The company won the award for achieving the highest percentage revenue achievement for HP Storage Works against its volume targets from May to October 2007.

General manager Noel Simpson says the awards were open to HP partners in the Asia Pacific region.
"This makes winning the award even more significant as we were up against larger companies and Tier One partners. We had to send a representative to Macau, China to receive the award."

He adds that the recognition represents Lexel’s continued growth and success in its storage business, as much as virtualisation and consolidation in general.
Article courtesy of Reseller News
8 February 2008 Lexel installs own VoIP system By Hamish Barwick.

In a vote of confidence for the products it sells, Lexel has installed a Zultys VoIP system – the same one it markets to SME customers.

General manager Noel Simpson says the company decided to use the Zultys system, which it promotes in the SME space, because it is as suitable to Lexel as it is to any of its customers. "It has expanded our staff's depth of knowledge with the product, particularly the sales team. And it helps us promote the product to our customers."
Lexel has the exclusive Auckland distribution rights for Zultys. It implemented the Zultys MX250 system into Auckland head office, which included installing a mixture of more than 70 Zultys handsets, Polycom handsets and soft phones, as well as integration with Microsoft Outlook.

The company embarked on the upgrade as its previous system was becoming outdated, says Simpson.

"We either had to spend some significant money putting in additional brands to drive the old PABX or have a complete refresh. We decided to go with a complete new system to allow us to have a platform that would continue to scale and be adaptable for us."

The new system has also improved the company's helpdesk, as it prioritises calls and allows proper reporting of call volumes, Simpson says.
"We can easily set and measure our KPIs [key performance indicators] instantly, all the time to ensure we have the right resources on board."

Simpson adds that the installation is another key step along Lexel’s growth-path plan.
"This is the primary platform that allows us to communicate with our customers and if you get it wrong, it can impact on customers significantly."
Article courtesy of Reseller News
15 January 2008 Lexel goes Green: Lexel launches stage one of its Green Initiative with a Public Policy on its own Sustainability   Lexel is socially responsible and environmentally aware. While customer service remains our top priority, we have instituted a company programme that reviews business activities and operational best practices to minimise waste and environmental impacts.

Our policies and procedures reflect relevant environmental legislation and are currently initiating an external sustainability review and moving towards formal accreditation, known as Sustainable Procurement Accreditation. Our goal is to continuously improve environmental practices and reporting to ensure best practice standards are maintained at all times.

Right now, we are focusing on the following areas of our operation:

Waste minimisation

The production of waste, particularly through infrastructure and hardware obsolescence, is a business reality. However, it is the manner in which an organisation chooses to dispose of this waste that largely determines environmental impacts. Rather than landfill disposal, Lexel actively recycles the following:

• Paper, bulk cardboard

• Polystyrene

• Plastic and glass

• Toner cartridges

Lexel’ Integration and Logistics centre pursues an end-to-end lifecycle approach to infrastructure and hardware acquisition and disposal. From deployment we also responsibly consolidate and dispose of old equipment;

• Returning obsolete technology to lease companies or other designated parties

• Reselling old products that still retain some economic life

• Donating equipment to schools and charities (on client request)

• And breaking down and recycling products at the end of their economic life
Technology and appliance energy efficiency

Lexel has taken the following steps to actively conserve energy:

• Server virtualisation has dramatically reduced our physical server footprint and improved computing capacity utilisation

• IT infrastructure enables staff to work remotely, often from home, minimising travel

• Inactive printers and PCs are maintained in sleep mode; and air conditioning units operate according to timers, limiting their operation. Where possible, such as warehouses, external openings to provide indoor/outdoor airflow will further reduce dependencies on air conditioning

• Light bulbs are replaced with energy efficient units. The use of natural lighting has minimised artificial lighting

• Holding tanks manage storm water, minimising use of public drains

We have recently made a big decision that will dramatically reduce company travel, vehicle emissions and improve fuel efficiency. Recent investment allows us to remotely maintain and manage many of our projects and customer sites. Additionally, the company’s vehicle fleet has been standardised on fuel efficient Toyotas with low emission ratings.

Products sold
Lexel actively seeks out and recommends new products that offer improved efficiency ratings and eco-friendly innovation.
9 November 2007 Lexel - Now an accredited HP Authorised Business Solution Partner for HP StorageWorks   Hewlett Packard New Zealand is continuing to build collaborative partnerships with selected Business Partners to enhance their capabilities to address the technology needs of customers who are looking for expert and HP accredited consultation, configuration and installation services from their authorised HP Resellers.

HP’s Authorised Business Solutions Partner (ABSP) program is a formal accreditation program available to HP Business Partners globally. The umbrella program is designed to recognise and reward selected partners who become proficient, via formal HP training and accreditation, in a range HP of products and services which then enable them to deliver selected HP branded services directly to their customers.

HP’s Enterprise Virtual Array (EVA) family of enterprise class storage technology has recently been added to the ABSP program enabling suitably accredited resellers the ability to now deliver HP Branded Installation and Start Up services for this technology to their customers. The knowledge these partners have gained through the formal training and accreditation program make them ideal partners to advise and consult, design and install enterprise storage solutions from HP.

To become an HP ABSP/StorageWorks Partner Lexel has met HP’s world class quality standards, through investing in formal HP education, and now has the required number of Technical Consultants and the appropriate business processes in place to deliver a range of HP Branded services for HP StorageWorks under the auspices of this program.

The ABSP difference ...
• Consultation: matching HP’s storage portfolio and service solutions to the requirements of the customers business, to

• Configuration: integrating the customer’s new or existing storage platform to the business operations and environment, to

• Installation: certified by HP to deliver HP branded installation and start-up services for selected HP storage products.

“New Zealand businesses are more than ever relying on IT Service Providers to be a single source for solutions for enabling their Business Technology. Due to the technical expertise needed for configuring and installing HP’s high end storage products, partners and customers have historically relied solely on HP internal technicians to fulfil these activities. HP Partners accredited under the ABSP programme now have the same accredited expertise as our own technicians, access to the same tools and are backed by the full support of HP. Exclusive HP programs such as ABSP enable our partners to better serve their customers’ requirements from start to end.”

Mark Penfold, General Manager Technology Services, HP New Zealand
28 October 2007 Lexel wins The Minister of Defence Award of Excellence to Industry Auckland technology integrator Lexel has taken top honours in The Minister of Defence Award of Excellence to Industry, for its work with the Royal New Zealand Navy (RNZN).

Earlier this month Lexel took home the service excellence award for the supply of equipment and services for Category B - contracts below $7 million. Lexel won the award ahead of five other nominated companies in Category B.

The integrator has worked with RNZN for the past 12 years, including contracts to supply IT infrastructure and services to Navy’s new $500 million seven-strong fleet – a competitive tender it won last year from prime contractor Australian firm Tenix Defence Pty.

Noel Simpson, Lexel general manager, says it was satisfying to beat mostly large competitors to win the award. “We’re big enough to do this sort of business – extremely well it seems – but not so big that we lose sight of the customer and our service sweet spot.”

RNZN Captain John Tucker, who nominated Lexel for the award, says the integrator stood out for its willingness to go the extra mile, skilled vendor negotiation and ability to integrate multiple manufacturers products into a single workable solution.

Simpson says his company’s service ethos was a factor in being recently awarded the ‘through-life’ support contract for IT services on all Navy vessels.
The company recently collected another supplier excellence award from client and retailer Stevens. “We bring the same level of care and attention to all our clients, across the board,” Simpson says.
19 October 2007 Lexel in the News: No white flag just yet for Simpson Twenty years at the helm of the company he built from scratch have not cured Chris Simpson of his passion for technology or hard work.

Establishing Computer Brokers in 1987 with just $20 in the bank was a far cry from Simpson’s first job as a soldier.
Though he says his five-year military career, which included two years in active service in Malaya and Borneo, instilled in him skills and principles he has applied throughout his career.

These include loyalty, self-discipline, teamwork and leadership abilities, but no doubt also the tenacity with which he overcame all the usual trials of building a business and battled an enormous personal challenge.
About 13 years ago, Simpson was diagnosed with what he describes as “a nasty case of cancer”, which local doctors thought was untreatable.

“The people here in New Zealand basically wrote me off.”

However, Simpson was not going to give up without a fight and became involved in an experimental field-trial treatment programme being conducted in the US. The treatment lasted three years, during which time Simpson travelled across the Pacific about 30 times.
“At one stage I was spending eight days out of 30 in the US.”

This meant he had to step back from the business, but by this time his son Noel was ready to take on much of the day-to-day responsibilities.

“That was quite a challenge for the family, but we won that one – that’s now 10 years behind us.”
Simpson, aged 64, is still managing director of the company and has no plans to retire any time soon. Even though as general manager, his son is now in charge of the company’s day-to-day operations.

“I have no plan to retire – I do have plans to step back on the workload and I do have plans to get on a plane or a boat and be absent for a period of time. I just spent two months overseas in Valencia for the America’s Cup. I plan to do those kinds of things. The day-to-day control of the company is firmly in Noel’s grasp.”

Not being involved with the operational side of the business frees Simpson to focus on the strategic direction of the company.

“You can’t see the horizon if you are standing in the middle of the forest. So my job is to go and stand on the beach and look at the horizon and take a long-term view of it.I look at strategy and where we go and do a lot of the research associated with that and seeing how that fits in with our long-term plans – so looking at various aspects of growing the business, which allows Noel to get on with the day to day business of running the company.”

One example of a growth project Simpson drove was the establishment of Enterprise IT – a separate company set up just over two years ago in which Lexel holds a majority shareholding, along with Stuart Speers, who runs the business.

Enterprise IT was set up to service a sector of the market Lexel does not operate in – the high-level enterprise Linux, Oracle and project management space.
“It allows for the company to give a wider level of service across our customer base.”

Simpson began the business in 1987 after seeing the potential of computing, having taught himself to write programmes based on Lotus spreadsheets for the finance firm where he was a director.

“When I started off I threw $20 into a bank account and said: ‘Right, that’s it let’s go’.”

To get the business up and running Simpson worked feverishly – spending his days going through the Yellow Pages pitching his spread sheeting solution to businesses listed in the directory. “I could see how computing could solve common problems every business was facing. After a while, customers started calling me for referrals and I didn’t have to use the Yellow Pages anymore.”

In those early days, Simpson worked long hours to grow the business. “There was an incredible amount of hard work in the first 10 years. I would never do paperwork during the day when I could be calling clients.”

But he enjoyed the work. “It was a job, an occupation, but above all it was a hobby – I loved the industry and I liked what I was doing. There were enormous challenges, but I enjoyed those challenges and loved every minute.”
For Simpson the secret to his career success is the ability to put himself in his customer’s shoes and act accordingly. “The philosophy I have is to treat other people as you would expect them to treat you. That is the philosophy I built the company on.”

If it wasn’t for Lexel, Simpson would be running his own business of some description. “What it would be I don’t know. I was just so sure that the computer industry was where I was going when I started.”

And, Simpson has enjoyed the experience of working with his son.

“In a father and son team, a father has to appreciate the taste of blood from biting his own tongue. There are many occasions when you must do that. We had to learn the hard way, so why shouldn’t they? That sort of experience of learning the hard way stays as a learnt lesson.”

While he is passionate about his work, two-and-a-half years ago Simpson developed a zeal for another activity, which left many of his peers astounded – Targa rally racing.

“A friend of mine was doing Targa and I went along to see what it was all about. The very next year I drove in the six-day New Zealand Targa. People responded with words like ‘mad’ or ‘stupid’, but of course there were a lot of the guys saying: ‘Good on you, go for it’.”

But, perhaps at the risk of losing some kudos, Simpson believes the sport is not that dangerous. “The biggest damage to a lot guys is to their pride. There are cars in there that are old and a lot of them don’t go that fast – if the drivers make a mistake and slide off the road, then their pride is dented. It is a lot of fun – I don’t go there trying to be the fastest man on the road.”

Nevertheless, Simpson acknowledges not many people take up the sport at his age. “A lot of people have been doing it for many years.”
On the other end of the adrenaline scale, Simpson is also a keen fisherman, who enjoys taking clients fishing on his boat. He was also a volunteer fish and game ranger for about seven years. “That is something totally the opposite of computerisation.”

Q + A

Favourite gadget

It will have to be my hi-definition video camera.

Favourite website

I don’t have one, except our own of course.

Favourite sport

The usual – rugby, the America’s Cup and Targa racing – I also keep a casual eye on the Formula One, the V8 and the WRC [World Rally Championship].

If you could have a cup of coffee with anyone, dead or alive, who would it be? 
It must be Charles Upham – he is the only double Victoria Cross recipient in the history of New Zealand. He was also a fantastic leader. He knew my father, but I never had the chance to meet him.
What has been the most important technological advance in IT?

It is a combination of things – the increased development and power of computer chips, the increased communication between computers and the advent and growth of storage. Without those we would not have had the development we have had.

What book is on your bedside table?

Without Remorse by Tom Clancy – I enjoy his books.

Who is/was your mentor?

There have been a number of people, such as Owen Hannigan – the chairman of P&O New Zealand who also owned Andrew and Andrews, which was a big freight business up to the 60s. He was a personal friend of the family – I always used to discuss business with him.
Article courtesy of Reseller News
19 October 2007 Services business growth means title may not reflect core business  By Louis van Wyk,

The brand with which Computer Brokers has grown into a thriving family-owned business over the past 20 years, may not be the name that takes it into the next two decades.

Computer Brokers was founded 20 years ago this month by Chris Simpson, who is still managing director.
However, although procurement has traditionally made up 90 percent of the company’s business, there are plans to grow its services business significantly, says general manager and Chris Simpson’s son, Noel Simpson.

“We have more than doubled our services in the past 12 months. We have a three-year target to make it 40 percent of the business, while still growing procurement.”
As the services business grows, the Computer Brokers name may no longer be an accurate reflection of the company’s core business, says Simpson.
“I would say we are about a year away from having to decide if the name portrays a true image of what we do.”

But whatever direction the company takes in the future, it will retain its focus on customer service and keeping bureaucracy to a minimum, which have been vital elements in it’s longevity, says Chris Simpson. “We have always had a clear vision of where we were going, but also stayed focused on those things that customers want and expect, like good service and value for money.”
Noel agrees: “What customers want is quite simple – good service at a fair price. They want to be able to deal with someone on a long-term basis [who] is available, knowledgeable and does what they say they will.”

Future growth for the company, which now comprises 57 staff, will be organic and not by acquisition, even though it recently acquired Omni Solutions.

“That was an exception – we took Omni because we saw value in its voice over IP expertise,” says Chris Simpson.

The company may also invest in new affiliate businesses that complement its core focus, as it did two years ago when the company helped set up Enterprise IT, in which it is a majority shareholder, says Noel Simpson. 
“Computer Brokers has a lot of infrastructure that enables a [new] business to start up very quickly. It can copy and leverage existing business infrastructure that is robust and proven to gain traction quickly.”

Article courtesy of Reseller News
14 September 2007 Lexel acquires Omni Solutions  Auckland technology integrator Lexel has bought VOIP solutions integrator and Zultys Auckland distributor Omni Solutions for an undisclosed sum.

Noel Simpson, Lexel general manager, says his company is actively seeking out new technology partners and acquisitions to broaden his company’s solutions portfolio.
Under the terms of the sale, Lexel has bought Omni Solutions’ assets and customer base. The company’s entire staff has been retained by Lexel.

Noel Simpson, Lexel general manager, says the Zultys distributorship rounds out his company’s VOIP practice with solutions for both ends of the market.

“We’ve done well with Cisco VOIP at the big end of town and will now cover all bases. From what I’ve seen Zultys VOIP solutions offer the quickest and easiest way for SMB customers to transition to premise-based IP telephony,” says Simpson.

Simpson says telephony sits comfortably with IT infrastructure provision. “Telephony and IT are natural bedfellows. Their convergence puts sophisticated IP-based telecommunications within the easy reach of almost every business.”

Zultys includes a range of IP PBX systems, IP telephones, and supporting peripherals for the VOIP deployment.
Lexel maintains partnerships with over 50 vendors, including prime partnerships with HP, IBM, Microsoft, Citrix, Cisco and VMWARE. Last year the 50-employee company invested $1.5 million to triple the size of its Albany facility, including the addition of a warehouse to house equipment for large-scale deployments.
7 November 2006 Lexel Appointed Magenta Retail Master Reseller for NZ Auckland technology integrator Lexel has been appointed master NZ support reseller for Magenta Retail products in NZ.

Magenta Retail is used as the Point of Sale (POS) and management product at many of New Zealand’s and Australia’s top retailers including: Briscoes, Rebel Sport, Hallensteins, Glassons, Spotlight, Ezibuy, Country Road and Stevens.

Lexel has worked with Magenta Retail for over 10 years. Its 1st install was in 1996 when it worked with Magenta Retail (formerly ISL) to rollout the product across Briscoes and later Rebel Sport. Today it provides direct support or escalation support for many of New Zealand’s top retailers. Lexel runs a 7 day helpdesk supporting retail systems including POS software, hardware, networks and EFTPOS.

Noel Simpson Lexel General Manager, says this is an important recognition of our capability to sell and support Magenta Retail solutions. We currently provide an end to end support solution for many clients in both New Zealand and Australia. Point of sale is an important vertical for Lexel and we look forward to building this business further.
6 November 2006 Lexel opens 1.5 million dollar building extension Auckland technology integrator Lexel has opened its 1.5 million dollar building extension. His worship the Mayor George Wood opened the event with key customers and suppliers in October.

The building extension provides over twice the existing space with approximately 11,000ft2 of office and 3000ft2 of full height warehouse. The new space provides a dedicated integration centre with separate workshop facilities, dedicated seminar room, dedicated customer service reception, additional meeting rooms, large amounts of additional office space and a separate full height logistics warehouse.

The new extension and remodelling of the existing building provides key space for existing staff and is core to the planned growth. Noel Simpson, Lexel General Manager, says the new space is a key step for Lexel continued success. It provides new capability and improved efficiency for handling large projects and managed run rate pre and post integration work. The new integration centre processed over 25 pallets of HP and Cisco equipment for Navy in its 1st month, and 3x HP EVA SANS for a large Australasian client.

 Mr Simpson continues: "we are currently investing heavily in all parts of our business and looking to offer a wide range of solutions to our clients. We are particularly focussed on growing our service capability and are already experiencing strong growth in this area. It is an exciting time to be in IT, and Lexel is well positioned for continued success and growth."
20 July 2007 Lexel lands multi-million dollar Navy contract Auckland technology integrator Lexel has landed a major contract to supply IT infrastructure to the Royal New Zealand Navy’s new $500 million seven-strong fleet.
The company recently won a competitive tender issued by prime contractor Australian firm Tenix Defence Pty for the supply of Computer network equipment for the multi-vessel Navy defence project known as "Project Protector".

Lexel will design, procure and deploy computer networks and core systems on all seven vessels. The project is expected to take 12 months to complete. 
Noel Simpson, Lexel general manager, says deploying IT on military seagoing vessels poses unique challenges. "The deployment is in a harsh physical environment and must satisfy strict security measures and standards of safety and health."

He says the company has already spent over 500 hours on design and proposal and expects a team of three Auckland-based staff to spend several hundred more before getting near its first vessel. "An extraordinary amount of planning has already gone into this project. It’s tough fixing problems when you're 200 miles offshore, so exhaustive lab testing is a significant part of the overall project."

Lexel has worked with the New Zealand Defence Force and the Royal New Zealand Navy for 10 years.
The contract is a significant win in privately owned Lexel's 20-year history. "It’s not our biggest purchase order but it's certainly a flagship project in our company's history," says Simpson. 
Earlier this year the 50 employee company invested $1.5 million to triple the size of its Albany facility, including the addition of a warehouse to house equipment for large-scale deployments.
10 July 2006 Lexel lands 2 year TVNZ contract Auckland, 10 July, 2006 – Auckland technology integrator Lexel has landed a considerable contract for ‘Printer and Peripheral Supply and Support – Service Level Agreement’ for Television New Zealand and its nationwide offices. The 2 year contract has an option to extend for 1 additional year.

Lexel will provide managed and SLA driven procurement, maintenance and servicing for printers and peripheral product.

Noel Simpson, Lexel general manager, says "The TVNZ contract is an important one for Lexel, and this is a strategic win for the business.

 The company has a strong existing capability in managed procurement and nationwide servicing, and this enables us to provide winning service.
"The key to the selection was the ability to meet TVNZ's SLA requirements, our years of experience, mature systems and practices, which enable us to efficiently excel in this area"

Sandra Thompson from TVNZ said "Lexel are a good fit for the contract, and we're very pleased with their response and having them onboard. Having trusted and reliable suppliers is key to running our business smoothly and effectively."

Earlier this year the 50 employee company invested $1.5 million to triple the size of its Albany facility, including the addition of a warehouse to house equipment for large-scale deployments.
6 June 2002 Computer Brokers Enters Wellington Market Computer Brokers, a 15 year old and successful Auckland based Tier one solutions reseller has teamed up with local Wellingtonian Guest Coughlan and has just opened a branch in Wellington.

Guest who has been successful with Unisys, (Program Manager), and more recently Fujitsu, (Sales Manager) started his career in IT as a technician with NCR has had experience in most facets of the industry.

Noel Simpson, General Manager for Computer Brokers, says "We've put together a branch business model for Wellington that will ensure a successful and solid base to service the Wellington region corporate and government market place. We've appointed Guest Coughlan as an experienced Wellington manager, and someone that can take our existing relationships and business in the Wellington region to an even higher level."