GCD Technologies was established amidst the dot.com bubble in 1999. Yet, unlike many of its peers, the company has not only survived but is doing very well.
Andrew Cuthbert and Andrew Gough were school friends who were still at university at Queen’s when they were contacted by another old friend who had moved into business investment. Knowing that the two Andrews were keen on IT and aware of the finance available at that time for high-tech ventures, he told them that this was a good opportunity to set-up their own operation.
GCD started out by designing an e-commerce website for a business selling traditional Irish craft goods to the United States. With the success of that initial website design, more orders for GCD followed and Cuthbert and Gough began developing further skills to produce specialist software that provided clients with websites that exactly met their needs.
The subsequent evolution of GCD has followed similar lines to the development of e-commerce itself. “We gave customers control of their own sites,” explains Cuthbert. Customers then wanted to have full sales functions integrated and, eventually, the online management of orders and stock via a single integrated system. GCD has enabled their customers to do all this.
More recently, GCD has also developed additional desktop software applications, including a database facility that has been produced specifically for churches and charities. In addition, two specialist databases have been produced for estate agents that are supplied via PropertyNews.com.
After a decade in business, the company is well established. As it expanded it moved from its early base in a Belfast industrial unit and now operates from Lisburn Enterprise Park, with 15 employees including the two founding directors.
Trade is strong and growing, despite the downturn – last year turnover was half a million pounds and this year it expects this to rise to three quarters of a million. But there are no plans to grow it much larger, at least in terms of employee numbers.
“Eventually we want to see us working with larger names in Northern Ireland industry,” says Cuthbert. “We don’t want to become too big, but do things that bigger companies can’t do. We want to move technologies quickly, which is one of our key market strengths.”
Staff and customers have told the firm that they are happier if the company avoids trying to over-reach itself by growing too big.
Having already expanded strongly, GCD is clear that remaining fairly small is the flexible and friendly route to success.