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AR Digital expands into IT

Even in the midst of a pandemic, AR Digital didn’t let the grass grow. The Newport-based firm took the decision to expand the business and set-up a new sister company, AR IT Support. Michelle Ryder spoke to Managing Director Rick Porazinski, to find out more

Porazinski founded AR Digital in 2003 as a managed print and document management company, operating mainly in South East Wales. A year later, his son Alex joined the firm to lead the technical side of the business, implementing cutting-edge software to streamline service for its customers.

AR Digital is certified to the ISO 9001 international standard for quality management systems and its ethos is very much customer-centric. “We always put our customers first, in a way we treat them like family. Half of the people in the company are on the technical side, and they’re dedicated to providing support as and when our customers need it,” Porazinski explained.

The company enjoys a high retention rate. “Our customers stick with us because we always deliver first class service and support. If a customer has an issue with their office equipment, we know that they want it resolved as soon as possible and we always fix things as quickly as we can. Our service response rate is second to none – on average from ticket to onsite visit, we typically work to 2.4 hours. And, we really look after our equipment in the field we don’t just patch it up,” he added. Up until 2019, the company’s business model was centred on providing EDM, MPS and scanners. AR Digital works with partner brand Filestream whose systems enable fast and secure electronic document storage, workflow, archiving and retrieval and also has a scanning bureau, where it conducts back scanning projects for clients leveraging its EDM.

“Printing remains core to our business, we serve a lot of schools and schools do print a lot. People still like paper – as an example, one of our biggest customers on the EDM side has 22 million digital documents stored, but they still use paper in the manufacturing processes,” Porazinski explained.

Expand into new areas

Porazinski said that while MPS brings in the majority of revenue, mid-pandemic, he made the decision to expand into new areas. He set up a new company AR IT Support, which offers managed IT and telecoms, and hired an ex BT salesperson as its Business Sales Manager and a young technician to support cloud telecoms.

“Increasingly, we were being asked for help with telecoms and managed IT, so we explored buying in an operation to bolt-on,” he explained. “By June 2020 we had everything in place and set up AR IT Support and because we had acquired IT specialists, we didn’t have to start from scratch.”

AR IT Support has partnered with Gamma on the telecoms side and is offering a suite of cloud-based products. “We employed our trainee technician under the Kickstart scheme and he is currently going through the Gamma accreditation process. We’re also looking to expand the team further especially on the marketing side. We know that if we want to grow revenues, then we have to grow the team,” Porazinski added.

Porazinski said that business is good and the company is meeting all targets. “In terms of revenue, the telecoms and IT side comprises around 25 per cent of our main company. We’ve seen huge demand in this area because of remote working and we see huge potential in the new normal.”

Expand reach nationwide

He continued: “We serve lots of companies in Wales, but we are looking to expand our reach nationwide. Our goal is to double revenue in three years, and we see managed IT and telecoms as really key in helping us achieve this.”

In line with other MPS businesses in the sector, Porazinski admits that service revenue fell off a cliff during the first lockdown. “But it very quickly came back, we look after a lot of schools and medical sites, so we are now back to where we were pre-pandemic,” he said.

“The past few months, we’ve seen business really pick up with increased demand for new kit – many customers that delayed upgrades or who extended existing contracts last year, are now coming back – and that’s good news,” he concluded.

www.ardigital.co.uk