Managing Director Chris Roche started ACUTEC over 20 years ago. Get to know him a bit better – from his first ever piece of tech to his love for travel.
How did you get into technology?
I’ve always been intrigued by technology! The first gadget I ever bought myself was a calculator when I was at primary school. My second piece of tech was a digital watch – one that had a stopwatch built in. I remember my parents buying me a computer that plugged into the TV with the game Pong. Seeing more and more exciting games come out kept me interested – it was exciting to see what would come out next. And because I was born in 1969, as a child I always wanted to be an astronaut, so I naturally adopted technology – it was all new and exciting!
Why did you start ACUTEC?
From a young age, I always wanted to run my own business. It’s in the genes as I come from a family of entrepreneurs, so it was natural that I would follow the same path. I knew that I wanted to be my own boss and be in charge of my own destiny.
What does a typical day look like for you?
As soon as I get up, I check my emails, look at social media to see what’s going on and see what’s in my diary for the day – I am consumed by emails – like many people in business. I find that using the ‘focused’ and ‘other’ options in my email settings help to manage the less urgent issues.
I go to a number of meetings, and I’m presented with problems.
A large amount of my role is firefighting – it’s rare that someone comes up to me and says “Chris – I’ve done this, and it worked really well” – it’s more “this isn’t working” “we need to find an easier way to do this”. This does mean that I’m often in meetings and have to juggle the diary. As my business has grown and I have a larger team, it’s easier to allocate tasks to different people. Plus we have established protocols in place for both general support issues, as well as new software development.
Where do you see the company going in the next 5 years?
Our core is software development and we’ve successfully developed many different programmes over the years and this, along with being a Microsoft Gold Partner, is our focus.
Our most recent developments have been a specialist Legionella software programme – Custodian. In fact one of the lead developers on the project lost his grandfather to legionella – in a past time where there was less knowledge and no testing. That’s why this software is so critical. It ensures those testing don’t miss important aspects of the testing. Being cloud based it means the engineers can record all issues on the move. Another new software development is ACUTEC Attendance. This is a step on from the tradition clocking in system. There was a time where this was more about the hours worked, but in some of the large factories we have it’s a critical piece of people safety – if there is a fire or other major incident on site, the emergency services accurately know who is and isn’t in the building. The innovative aspect of ACUTEC Attendance is that it’s based on either iris or fingerprint scanning – so a colleague can’t ‘clock in’ someone else!
For me, the software has to make a difference, to save time, to save re-work or in cases like these – to save lives. Maybe I didn’t become an astronaut, but I’m making a real difference to many businesses and for me, that’s just as important.
How do you achieve a good work/life balance?
I have a reasonable work / life balance – with three children its hard not to! Plus I’m not working in the business every day. I spend time working on the business in many ways. Being part of a business owners group where we share our projects and issues, it can often become a form of consultancy for each other.
Plus I take time out of the office and love to travel. Holidays provide those essential breaks to recharge the batteries and gain different perspectives. I know some business owners never take time off and I think that’s a mistake.
What’s your life motto?
“Just get on and do it!” I am really tenacious and never give up, plus I’m good at resolving problems.
What’s your all-time favourite piece of technology?
It’s got to be the mobile phone. It’s completely changed the world and the way we communicate. But I remember the day when text messaging was activated on my phone, and I thought “who’d ever use this?!”
What’s one piece of advice you’d give to budding entrepreneurs?
You’ve got to try and predict the future. You’ve got to think “does somebody really want that service?” and if they do, has it got any longevity? Focus on an idea, and try not to move around too much, but be prepared to go with the changing times. Go with the flow, and don’t resist it too much.
If you could have dinner with any three people, dead or alive, who would they be?
Albert Einstein, Winston Churchill and Muhammad Ali. All very successful, and there would be some great stories around that table!