Jeremy takes the Risc out of IT solutions ; Jeremy Keane managing director Risc IT Solutions [Daily Post (Liverpool, England)]
(Daily Post (Liverpool, England) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) AFTER a childhood dabbling in computers, Jeremy Keane hit the bar before later returning to his first passion where he is now flourishing.
The managing director of Risc IT Solutions in Llandudno left school at 17 after failing to capitalise on his potential in computers.
He went into pub and bar manager work until a combination of long unsociable hours and a young family left him looking for something new.
This saw him retrain and after first becoming an expert IT troubleshooter he helped start up data storage and on-line backup business Clunk Click (later Risc) with Paul Roberts, a friend Jeremy made when he first moved to North Wales.
The business thrived and, with cloud service company Risc back in their hands after a period under a French parent company, they are looking to drive forward, creating further growth and new jobs.
Jeremy said: "I went to school in the Midlands and Computer Studies had just been brought in. BBC Micros and Sinclair ZX81s were cutting edge back then. It was interesting being in computers in those days but I did absolutely nothing with it, I did GCSEs and went straight into working. I left school at 17 and started working for various different pub chains and restaurants."
He moved to North Wales with his parents in 1986 when they bought Llysfaen post office.
He worked in several local hostelries before being becoming bar manager at The Ship Inn in Rhos-on-Sea, and then at the Groes in the Conwy Valley.
He then decided it was time to retrain.
He said: "I had a young family with two small children and you don't want to be working 12 hours a day getting in at midnight and not seeing your kids."
He did a BTEC qualification on a residential course in the Midlands that gave him the skills to become a computer repair technician.
He got a job in Southport for a computer supply company although his family remained in North Wales. He moved to work for US firm Dun & Bradstreet as a technical troubleshooter working UK-wide before he later decided he wanted to come back to North Wales and took a job as IT manager at North Wales Training in Mochdre.
But a fresh break came in 2000, that he owed to his experience as a bar manager at The Ship.
He said: "I met Paul as he came to the Ship as a student at Llandrillo. Our first interaction was probably me asking his age! He approached me as he knew my background was in IT, he was starting Clunk Click on-line back-up as a company and moving back to North Wales. I was employee number one. We were working out of a spare bedroom in his house in Colwyn Bay, took on a few customers and built a business over a few years. It was quite a slog, I was a one- man operational department, from technical support to billing. "We were only the second on-line back-up business in the UK. We were trying to persuade people to back up their data over a 14.4k-bit modem on a telephone line which was quite interesting. We knew broadband was coming and it would get over the problems of connectivity speeds and data upload times. In the old days a gigabyte of data over the phone would take a few days, now we are talking about terabytes (1024 gigabytes) in that time. As infrastructure and line speed significantly improved the business really started to take off."
They diversified the business as time went on into hardware and infrastructure solutions, with employee numbers growing over the years. The firm moved from Paul's house to offices at Riverside Business Park in Conwy before buying the former St George's Church and setting up the Church Walks Business Centre.
employed 14, was taken over by the Risc Group of France for over Pounds 3m, with Paul later leaving the business and handing the reins to Jeremy.
Jeremy said: "The group left us alone as a self-financing independent division after the takeover. They had plans to invest into the UK but unfortunately just after the takeover the financial crisis kicked in and almost took them down. It was an interesting journey."
. Are company manager. or North Wales? Would to spend a little company of Business Contact us DPBusinessWales " Decisions were taken to reduce the size of the business with the French not wanting to continue with the infrastructure side, and six staff left. With economic difficulties continuing to hit the parent company the UK team were consulted about buying the firm back.
Jeremy, Paul and business partner Joanna Stewart bought the company back with help from Finance Wales and HSBC. Jeremy said: "If we had not acted the potential was the jobs (now 10) would go and they would close the business down."
Since taking the company back they have halted a decline in sales and are now on a growth curve adding more products to their cloud portfolio.
They are now looking at re-opening the infrastructure division, which will create additional jobs.
Jeremy said: "We aim to grow gradually. We have not sold an awful lot in Wales because our channel partners are all over the UK.
you a owner, director in you like time in the Post? "We are actively looking at raising our profile in Wales because we are a Welsh business and we are proud to support the local economy.
via Twitter: "The easy thing would be to up sticks and put the business in London because the market is much larger but none of us want to do that, "This is where we want to be, it is where our families are and where we want to bring our families up.
"We are proud and excited to be building a cutting-edge cloud services company here in North Wales, we provide solutions to business challenges."
THE QUICKFIRE FIVE Do you miss anything from your days behind the bar? 1 No, but I still know how to pull a good pint and sort of still hanker over owning a pub one day.
Does putting a computer off and on actually work? 2 Off and on button is really handy, it does actually work quite well!
Ambition when you were at school? 3 I know this sounds weird but I actually wanted to be a power conservation engineer but ended up being a bar manager.
How has the firm found working with Finance Wales? 4 They have been fantastic, without their support there would have been more people unemployed in the local area and we would not be growing now.
How about England in the World Cup? 5 I always knew they didn't have a hope in hell but I'd have loved to be proved wrong.
THE CV FULL NAME Jeremy Keane, 47 EDUCATION Went to school in the Midlands, one of first students to sit Computer Studies. Later did BTEC courses in computer repair. FAMILY Married to Rachel. He has two grown up children. Lives in Colwyn Bay.
CAREER Worked in pubs and bars before later becoming IT troubleshooter and cloud expert.
It lo? Are you a company owner, manager or director in North Wales? Would you like to spend a little time in the company of Business Post? Contact us via Twitter: DPBusinessWales
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