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Small business stories about local Bendigo business people, their successes, changes and going places adventures. If you have a biz story call 5434 4417.
Bendigo Enterprise Magazine loves your enterprising business stories about local Bendigo business people; their successes, changes and going places adventures. If you have a business story, anniversary, change of address or are new owners, give us a hoy on 5434 4417.
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This June's Enterprise cover story ~ Creating the magic touch AS a couple of young blokes selling audio equipment to the people of Bendigo as part of the team at Reilly’s, Travis Toms and Justin Day could never have imagined that just a few years down the track they’d be doing business with the likes of Telstra, Optus and Price Waterhouse. Or that they’d be partnering with technology giants such as NEC and Toshiba. But Travis Toms is not one to sit back and wait for opportunity to knock. He makes things happen. And in 2008, when he saw the need for a local supplier of interactive whiteboards to the education sector, he created Interact Us. “It began as your typical backyard enterprise,” Travis says, “but quickly grew to the point where we needed a base to distribute from. We found ourselves a factory in Golden Square and everything has grown from there.” Interactive white boards, it turned out, were just the tip of the technology iceberg for Interact Us. With the growth of touch screens and their many applications across a whole range of industries, the business quickly branched in new directions. “We quickly realised that most of the touch screen products being imported from places like China just weren’t living up to the quality we wanted to provide to our clients,” Travis says. “When the opportunity arose to work with a company in Israel to manufacture screens here in Bendigo we jumped at the opportunity.” You Touch Technologies is the touch screen arm of Interact Us and is putting a Bendigo-made product into a national market. The unique process sees Travis and his team import components from Lumio Touch Screens in Israel, then calibrate and install them into NEC and Toshiba screens here in Bendigo. “We originally approached NEC with one of their screens that we’d converted to a touch screen to gauge their interest,” Travis explains. “Because all the components are hidden from view their immediate response was underwhelming. But once we turned it on and showed them the technology in action they were blown away. “Toshiba heard what we were doing for NEC and wanted to be a part of it. In many ways we’re the silent partner of these huge companies. We support them and keep their clientele happy. “But when each one of those products is unpacked somewhere around the country there’s a sticker on the back that says it was manufactured in Bendigo. We’re just one of many niche markets in Bendigo that most people wouldn’t know about.” One of the real challenges for You Touch Technologies is to continually adapt the components as touch screens become thinner and smaller. But it’s a challenge that continually excites Travis and Justin. As the screens get smaller the engineering gets more difficult, but as Justin says, You Touch has access to all the technologies to make it happen. They can create a touch screen from 10 inches to one- kilometre long. And if you’re wondering, like me, who would need a one-kilometre-long touch screen, Travis sums it up in a sentence. “Vegas is a magical place.” The newest aspect of the business is the Interact Us store in Mollison Street. And while it’s a natural extension of the business, the motivation behind it is something Travis would rather have avoided. On February 3, 2013 – a beautiful sunny Sunday, as Travis remembers – a paragliding accident turned his life upside down. Among his many injuries, Travis broke both ankles, sustained a compound fracture in one leg, and shattered his right foot. He spent a month in The Alfred Hospital, was in a wheelchair for six months and now lives in constant pain. “I’ve had to reassess what I can do,” Travis says. “The shop is a way to prepare for a time when I won’t be able to manage the physical stuff. “It’s also a chance to bring the business back to domestic sales as well as our big clients. It’s a way to bridge the gap between our commercial customers and retail customers. “With the recent closure of Prouds we can fill some of the gap in pro audio equipment, while also being the only retail store in Australia where you can purchase an interactive white board or touch screen over the counter. It also allows us to offer technology solutions to the average person on the street.” Business Manager, Justin Day, agrees that one of the hardest things about Interact Us is describing what they do. “Technology solutions is the easy answer, but within that we cover a vast array of territory. In the new store you can see it, touch it, feel it and if you like, you can buy it – and we’ll help you set it up and be able to use it. “It’s about start to finish solutions, whether it’s a big multi-national company or an individual wanting a technology solution in their home.” With technology moving so quickly, Travis is intent on staying one step ahead. “We’re already developing a new touch screen that can be cleaned with everyday cleaning products – something that hasn’t been addressed before. And we’ve just shipped our first batch of interactive white boards manufacture right here in Bendigo.” They clearly have the magic touch.
From Bendigo Enterprise Magazine Nov 2013: For Leigh and Rebekah Stevens, the dream of owning their own business has been a slog and a half. "When I started Central Victorian Mercantile (CVM), it was hard, and my wife Rebekah and I could have given up many times, but we had the best support from our family. "My dad always said 'never bite off more than you can chew' and on Rebekah's side, her dad always says, 'Bite off more than you can chew and then chew like mad'. "But no matter what advice you take, business doesn't just happen. You have to make it happen."
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