Aptronics has formally celebrated its 20th anniversary milestone – marking two decades since the company first began operating from founder and CEO, Anil “Appie” Pema’s garage 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 prior formal education. Today, he employees over 200 staff members and generates almost half a billion in revenue annually.
“My ambition at the time was to work for one of the well-known IT companies, however, the company I had my eye on only employed people with recognised diplomas. I got the job after obtaining the required diploma. Three years later I by another leading IT company, Link Technologies, to run its technical support department,” explains Pema.
In a short timeframe, Pema turned Link Technologies’ technical department cost centre into a profit generator, for which he was awarded a 1 % share of the business. He stayed on for 6 months without a salary until the company went into liquation. Shortly thereafter he set up a sole proprietorship called ‘Appie Care’ with a close friend, Kalpesh Naran.
“We went to support all the companies that had three-year warranties with Link Technologies and had been left stranded when it closed down. I took over the responsibility of fulfilling those warranties,” he says.
“I had a bigger picture in mind when I did that. And while we honoured all those warranties, the companies started asking us to source new equipment for them.”
The result of this was growth in Appie Care’s skills in the midrange arena. Soon the company built a strong reputation for problem-solving in the AS/400 environment. At that point, the company was making more revenue out of services than equipment. Appie Care had outgrown its humble beginnings and Aptronics was born.
On what it took for Aptronics to stick around longer than most South African IT companies, Pema adds, “Customer satisfaction is the secret to our success.”
“The key to the success of our business can be summed up in one phrase, which the Aptronics team chant as our guiding mantra: the customer is king,” he says.
In addition, Pema’s philosophy is investing in people and he places a huge emphasis on skills. He says that the company has had 90-95% staff retention since it was established all those years ago.
Looking to the future, Pema says: “We always want to exceed customer expectations. Our strategy forward is to continue to look for smarter ways to delivery excellent quality at a lower cost to the customer by engaging technology, people and a clear strategy.”