High Score for S S Electrical Superstore

Cromwell customer S S Electrical Superstore was awarded “Joint Commended Indie” in Bradford by the ERT mystery shopper team in May. The business will now automatically be entered into the ERT Awards 2012. For the full story see: http://www.ertonline.co.uk/Default.aspx.LocID-05nnew3hx.RefLocID-05n02u.Lang-EN.htm

We’re auditing websites for cookies

The EU Cookie Directive comes into force tomorrow and we have been undertaking website audits for all our web clients to ensure they are compliant. There’s an interesting article on the subject of Cookies on the BBC website today: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-17842925

Millers Music are “Retailer of the Month”

Millers Music are the current Music Industries Association Retailer of the Month, and our software is music to the ears of Miller’s present Managing Director and owner, Barry Robinson…

Miller’s Music in Cambridge may be the second oldest music retailer in the UK – they date back to 1856 – but they certainly have their fingers on the pulse of technology. In the early years, Miller’s Music were leaders in new technology selling early gramophones and the cylinders for them. They produced the first truly portable gramophones which were sold in their hundreds to the forces for use in the trenches during the First World War. Over one hundred pipe organs were made in Millers’ own factory and many are still giving good service today.

After The Second World War, the company was sold by the Miller family and was bought back only in 1953. By this time, the company was retailing all musical instruments and was a leader in the new field of electronic entertainment. It was also a leader in the new field of electric organs and was also selling a wide range of record players, records, radios and televisions. The link with television went right back to the early days when Millers exhibited the first working television in Cambridge! Today the £3-million turnover company employs the latest state-of-the-art retail software from Cromwell Business Systems to help it run smoothly. And has done for the past 30 years…

In fact Millers were Cromwell’s very first customers before they even registered with Companies House. Miller’s present Managing Director and owner, Barry Robinson – and the great, great grandson of the founder, Albert Tubelcain Miller – was running a Pick system at the time. And it was giving him and all the other users a big headache. Along came an IT expert who offered help and eventually even loaned his son to learn the business. And so Cromwell Business Systems was born. As was Open-Retail, the successor to the previous disastrous Q-Retail Miller’s were running. In those days Millers sold AV equipment and Cromwell went on to become the number one software specialist in that market place. However, Barry continued with the system even when his business went “music’ only in 1996.

Says Barry: “Cromwell has a well tried credit and rental system and the stock control is excellent too and provides all we need”. Millers have ‘several thousand’ rental and hire purchase accounts and says Barry: “I don’t know of any other system which offers credit management.” Open-Retail can set up Direct Debits without the Bank’s involvement which cuts down on paperwork and postage; involves less mistakes – not least on the Bank’s side; releases staff to do other things; provides faster option than Bankers Orders; and provides faster debt information. So while Millers’ origins are in the past, they are very much up to speed on technology to run their business more efficiently. And on a more down to earth note they know exactly where their business is at any given time. Says Barry: “By being able to get management accounts I can find out exactly how we are doing in any given area. And in these difficult times, this is particularly important.”

Getting to Know Dan Rigby

Dan Rigby

Here’s another revealing interview with one of our staff: Account Manager Dan Rigby who joined us in June 2010.

Q. How did you get into the software industry?
A. Completely by accident – I worked in retail and got to know Ian Jarvis’s daughter and Ian (Cromwell’s General Manager) suggested I apply for a job at Cromwell.

Q. What do you most enjoy about working here?
A. Helping customers get the most out of our software. It’s also a nice company to work for, and it really does try to reward staff for their achievements and to provide job security. It’s also extremely well organised compared with other organisations I’ve worked for, and that includes the Police.

Q. What have been the biggest challenges at Cromwell?
A. I didn’t know anything about software when I joined! I didn’t even think about retailers needing software to run their businesses, so it was a steep learning curve.

Q. If you weren’t in your current role what would you choose to do?
A. I wanted to join the Police, but that’s not looking likely now for a number of reasons. I was a Special and was sent down to London during the riots in August 2011. I was attached to a rapid response team in a van with other officers in and around Bromley, and was there when arrests were made over ransacking of a Richer Sounds store. That was quite an experience!

Q. How would you describe yourself?
A. I am always willing to learn new things. I like risky activities – for instance, kayaking, kite surfing and jumping stilts. My next plan is to sell my car and buy a motorbike. If I get to the mid life crisis stage, I’ll definitely do a parachute jump. I also want to be a Community First Responder now I’m no longer a Special, as I really get a kick out of helping people.

Q. Who, or what, makes you laugh?
A. Too much to list. I’m a very smiley person and laugh a lot because life amuses me most of the time. I laugh at TV programmes that many people might not find all that funny, like Lost and Dexter.

Q. Anything about yourself you’d like to change?
A. I should probably get more serious and focus more, and not see life as such a joke. I do rush in sometimes without thinking, plus I can be a bit black and white.

Q. Favourite food and drink?
A. I eat anything going, but I really enjoy Strawberry Cider, especially Rekorderlig.

Q. Biggest regret?
A. I don’t think I have any. Whatever has happened to me in my life I have accepted as fate or the result of my own actions.

Q. If you ruled the world for a day what would you do?
A. I would change some of the laws that are senseless or unjust or that cause unnecessary suffering to people.

Q. What’s your pet hate?
A. People who tell lies; and people who say “sorry” when they clearly don’t mean it.

Q. What’s your greatest achievement to date?
A. That I can move on and not let setbacks hold me back from having a useful and enjoyable life.

Q. Who has had the biggest influence on your life?
A. My Nan – she’s always there for me and I respect her wisdom even though I don’t always follow her advice.

Q. Who or what would you consign to Room 101?
A. Money.

Q. All-time favourite TV programme?
A. Dexter – I can’t wait for Series 7.

Q. What’s your favourite piece of kit?
A. My mobile ‘phone, and my jumping stilts.

Q. Where do you see yourself in 5 years’ time?
A. I’m still figuring it out, but maybe in the USA as I’m applying for a Green Card. One day I would like to go back to retail sales. Working for Cromwell is good prep for that as I am learning a vast range of different company procedures.

Q. Surfing or Safari?
A. Surfing, but preferably somewhere warmer than Teesside Saltburn which is where I’ve surfed in the past.

Q. What surprises you?
A. People’s ability to make mountains out of molehills – they should get a sense of proportion.

Q. Do you have any hidden talents?
A. I spent 7 years in the Air Cadets, so you could drop me on a remote mountainside somewhere and I could find my way home.

Q. If you were stranded on a desert island who would you most want to land on the beach?
A. Probably not a real-life Dexter… but just about anyone would be fine, as I really enjoy meeting people and getting to know them.

Young high achievers joining Cromwell

We have been running a series of workshops to recruit bright local students from a 6th form college in Cambridge. Over a day, the A and AS level students are introduced to our company, our web technology and retail applications, and then given tests to determine their aptitude. As a result of the most recent workshop attended by 10 students we have made job offers – which have been accepted – to two of those attending. Our Commercial Director, Sonu Kundi, says: “As a very successful company we feel in a position to put back something into the industry in this way. We are very pleased at how well attended our student workshops have been, and with the very high standard of the candidates attending, all of whom have numerous A and A* grades. We are delighted that James Waples and Matt Froggett will be joining us shortly as trainees.”

Getting to know Eamon Straughn

Eamon with console

Here’s the lowdown on Eamon Straughn, our new Web Manager who joined us in December 2011. Just to make him feel wanted we subjected him to another interview after he accepted the job.

Q. How did you get into Web development?
A. While I was in Barbados, aged about 11, I started messing about with equations and then doing programming as a subject at school. I started my own business aged 16 or 17 doing web development because I found it so exciting – not just the development side but the potential for the Web itself.

Q. What made you decide to join Cromwell?
A. Alex! He’s a really inspirational guy and I know we can be open and upfront with each other and can spark ideas off each other. I also know that I will have the opportunity to develop my skills here. The whole team is very friendly and everything we do here is highly structured and organised, which I really value.

Q. What are you most looking forward to about working at Cromwell?
A. Bringing further innovation to what we do here and helping to grow the Web side of the business.

Q. If you weren’t in your current role what would you choose to do?
A. Well, I wouldn’t mind being a Richard Branson with a home in the Bahamas!

Q. How would you describe yourself?
A. Very determined and resourceful. Maybe a bit dull as I am very focused and can’t leave a problem unsolved. That’s because I have always had responsibilities and need to get things resolved.

Q. Who, or what, makes you laugh?
A. Programmes like Have I Got news For You, or stand-ups like Michael McIntyre on Live at the Apollo.

Q. Anything about yourself you’d like to change?
A. I like the way I am – so no!

Q. Favourite food and drink?
A. Spanish. I could eat paella ten times a week. My girlfriend and I go over to Spain as often as we can, hire a villa and chill out by joining in with the locals.

Q. Biggest regret (apart from agreeing to do this interview)?
A. I’m not a fan of negativity or looking back, and am comfortable with myself and my choices.

Q. If you ruled the world for a day what would you do?
A. Make everyone who is capable of working work, so they can make a contribution to society.

Q. What’s your pet hate?
A. The Turner’s lorries on my journey from Letchworth to Ely.

Q. What’s your greatest achievement to date?
A. Getting where I am now in a relatively short life.

Q. Who has had the biggest influence on your life?
A. I’m very self-reliant, so I don’t look outside myself for guidance on what to do, where to go or how to get there.

Q. Who or what would you consign to Room 101?
A. Mr. Blobby, and Eastenders. Both are ghastly.

Q. All-time favourite TV programme?
A. Dragon’s Den – it’s a brilliant opportunity for businesses.

Q. What’s your favourite piece of kit?
A. My Solid State Logic (SSL) Pro mixing console. It’s in my studio at home and I make lots of music.

Q. Where do you see yourself in 5 years’ time?
A. I’d like to have climbed Everest and Kilimanjaro before I hit 30.

Q. Surfing or Safari?
A. Why not both? I’d love to visit Australia – and you can do both there.

Q. What surprises you?
A. Speed cameras.

Q. Do you have any hidden talents?
A. Mixing music, cooking, video and gallery production, running several businesses… I like to keep busy!

Q. If you were stranded on a desert island who would you most want to land on the beach?
A. Richard Branson, as long as he came with the complete package: a genius business brain, Virgin cola, hotels, trains, aeroplanes and a space shuttle.

24/7 Holiday Support from Cromwell

Cromwell will be providing 24/7 Support cover over the holiday season.

From Saturday 24th to Tuesday 27th December critical Support calls can be made to 01353 650 999.
From Wednesday 28th to Friday 30th December our offices will be open as normal from 9 am to 5.30 pm.
From Saturday 31st December to Monday 2nd January critical Support calls can be made to 01353 650 999.

We wish all our customers a very happy and profitable Christmas and New Year!

Trio of new trainees

Callum, Dan & Jack

We have recently expanded our team with three very bright new 19-year-old trainees: Jack Warden, Daniel O’Kane and Callum Jackman.

Programming has always been an interest for Jack who started Computer training in his sixth form at school. So when he saw our job vacancy online he immediately applied and was invited to attend a demonstration workshop. At present he is working in the Application Department learning how to fix bugs and helping test software before it is launched. His 6-month initiation will rotate between this and Web Support and Technical Support. Jack’s hobbies include gaming, films, and reading and basically anything connected to computers.

Daniel is another IT fan who admits to “always enjoying projects involving IT.” He’s obviously very adept with his fingers as he also plays the guitar, which he taught himself. His other great love is fishing on the Great Ouse. Dan was featured in the local paper just before he joined because he got such fantastic results in his GCSE exams!

The last of the new trio is Callum who also admits to a love of computing. “I learned so much really good stuff for my A level so was delighted to get a job in the industry” he says. He is also musical and plays the drums.

All three trainees will be on rotation between our Development, Support and Web teams.

Hosted solutions protect your data

We have all been horrified by the riots and looting that hit parts of London, Birmingham, Liverpool, Bristol and other cities earlier this month. Electrical stores have been particular targets, for obvious reasons. Thankfully, we do not know of any that have been destroyed by fire – but it did highlight for us the fact that our clients, with hosted IT solutions, are totally protected against complete loss of their data in the event of a disaster at their stores.

Our commercial Director, Sonu Kundi, says: “Retailers with manual records and own-server solutions (that rely on frequent backups) are far more vulnerable should the unthinkable happen and their premises get destroyed. Hosted IT may seem excessive for small to medium-sized retailers, but it could be the difference between having a viable business after a disaster and having to entirely cease trading.”

10k success for Dave & Scott

Scott and Dave after the race

Customer Support Manager Dave McLaughlin took a stroll in the park on 17th July. Well, it was a stroll compared to the London Marathon which he and his wife, Wendy, ran in April. This time it was the Dairy Crest 10K run in St. Ives, Cambridgeshire. He ran it in 49 minutes and 18 seconds, which put him in 197th place out of 460 runners. Strong winds made it a tough event for even seasoned runners such as Dave.

Dave now has a rival in the form of Web Developer, Scott Mokler. Scott started training at the beginning of the year and ran the 10k, his first ever race, in a very credible 1 hour, 10 minutes and 34 seconds. Scott ran on behalf of the East Anglia’s Children’s Hospices (EACH) and raised just under £150. Apart from having two young children himself, and believing EACH to be an incredibly worthwhile cause, Scott worked on the EACH website before he joined Cromwell. Well done to them both!