Each week we ask small businesses key questions. Here we speak to Fergus Henderson, owner of Turriff-based technical support and digital design firm Scotia Systems.
Q. How and why did you start in business?
A. In 2016 the previous owner of Scotia Systems was planning his well-earned retirement, and I was presented with the opportunity of purchasing the business. Scotia Systems was a successful, long-established business and, with my background of more than 30 years in manufacturing, where I worked in both purchasing and sales, I could see there was a great opportunity to grow it and offer a new range of products and services.
Q. How did you get to where you are today?
A. Lots of hard work and being able to take skills from previous roles, learn from them and adapt. I’ve also been involved in consumables, one way or another, and have held numerous responsibilities from both sides of the table. I appreciate how easy it is to purchase and how difficult it can be to sell. I believe that through running my own business and using this knowledge, I’m well-placed to continue growing Scotia Systems.
Q. Who helped you?
A. My family and friends have been a huge support throughout my career, and since owning Scotia Systems I’ve also been assisted by the Federation of Small Businesses and Business Gateway who have provided valuable information, advice and support whenever I’ve needed it.
I have also received support and mentoring from Nicola Davidson of Optimul, another small business support company, near Turriff. I’ve been working with Nicola and her team on developing a social media strategy to help increase my online presence. She’s also been great at pointing me in the right direction. I firmly believe that, along with many more actions from Optimul, the plans, strategy and help will add so much to my business.
Q. What has been your biggest mistake?
A. Sometimes I have been too trusting, but you can but learn from the errors you make and this can put you in a better position going forward.
Q. What is your greatest achievement?
A. Building up Scotia Systems into my own successful venture and giving myself a focus to succeed, particularly in these strange and difficult times.
Q. If you were in power in government, what would you change?
A. I understand how challenging running the country is currently, and will be going forward as we attempt to move out of Covid-19. I do, however, feel that businesses like my own, where the majority of trade is within retail and hospitality, have been missed out and offered little support.
I rent out and maintain electronic point of sale (Epos) till systems into these sectors, and when Covid-19 stuck and the first lockdown was announced I made the decision to suspend rental invoices to my customers whose till systems would be idle.
It isn’t in my nature to continue to charge when these customers were closed. I have fallen through the cracks during the pandemic, so if I had a voice in government, I would certainly be making noises to support other businesses who are missing out through no fault of their own.
Q. What do you still hope to achieve?
A. To continue to build Scotia Systems into a successful business covering more of the north-east. My location in Turriff is well-placed to service Aberdeen, Aberdeenshire and along the coast up to Moray. I also want to invest in new equipment on my Epos side, along with investment on my bureau labelling, which is an area I have been developing during lockdown.
Q. What do you do to relax?
A. I am huge sports fan, particularly football, and I support Aberdeen FC through thick and thin. I also enjoy darts and am a keen tropical fishkeeper.
Q. What are you reading, listening to or watching?
A. I only recently discovered Netflix. I’ve just finished watching the Designated Survivor series, a great watch.
Q. What do you waste your money on?
A. I’m always buying things for my fishkeeping, along with the odd pair of trainers. Oh and lots of chocolate.
Q. How would your friends describe you?
A. Reliable, I hope, and I like to think they would describe me as a friendly, sociable person who can be called on in times of need or help.
Q. What would your enemies say about you?
A. If I do have enemies then it’s something I don’t think too much about. I am more concerned with what I am doing and how to do things better to keep myself ahead.
Q. What do you drive and dream of driving?
A. I drive a Peugeot Partner van. I have a basic dream of driving a bigger van, with more space and delivering more of our products across Scotland.