Nicom IT Solutions
"Over 25 years of keeping IT real." That's the slogan of Halifax-based Nicom IT Solutions, but the tagline doesn't tell the whole story. In fact, the combined experience of the company is more like 47 years! Nicom is the product of two men with two very different companies, merging and bringing the best of both organizations together.
David Nicholson created Nicom Ltd. back in 1982 to specialize in consulting, technical support, and software development for the IT world of Atlantic Canada. DDA Solutions, owned by Pat d'Entremont and founded in 1986, had a focus on customized software solutions and later, web development services. The two friends and competitors talked about a merger for years, but in March 2006 they finally joined forces and Nicom IT Solutions was born.
"As co-owners, we bring different skill sets and different approaches to the business and that’s proven to be very complementary," says d'Entremont, who handles new business development for Nicom. He adds that the merger has also allowed them to cover a wider base in the local marketplace and offer customers many different services under one roof. "Many of our customers will use us for more than one service, whereas in the past, they may have had to use two different vendors."
The web development side of things is something that d'Entremont is especially proud of. In fact, the company has a separate website called Nicom Interactive, devoted to all things web. "We do both straight creative design and web development combined with software development and technical services." Being able to offer both aspects in one package has been enormously beneficial to their client base. He cites the Port of Halifax as an example of a client who hired them to do both website design and custom applications for online tracking and traffic management systems.
The success of these systems for the Port of Halifax has led to further work with other seaports. "It's one of the great perks of doing business in Nova Scotia," says d'Entremont. "Word of mouth is key." As a result, Nicom has become known as "the IT company with the deep port experience" working also with the Port of Saint John, the Atlantic Pilotage Authority, and a major American client on the Delaware River.
This seaport niche market has also resulted in an award which has made the partners of Nicom particularly proud. At the annual awards dinner of the Atlantic Pilotage Authority in 2005, Nicom was presented with an award of "Recognition and Appreciation of Professional Services." According to the client, the award represented appreciation of the fact that the Nicom project exceeded all their expectations and was completed on time and on budget. "Receiving an award – that we didn't apply for or expect – from a customer is the best," says d'Entremont. "It's a great honour."
This kind of success makes it clear that Nicom is focusing on all the right things. Professional project managers, affordable prices, and a focus on customer service enables them to produce the best results for their customer base. d'Entremont says the company's flexibility is also key. "We're able to adapt our services and our delivery models to suit both small companies and large projects for business and government."
Add to that the fact that they are one of only two companies in Atlantic Canada who belong to Microsoft's "Partner Excellence Program." To become a member, Nicom had to achieve four or more solutions competencies, designed to differentiate a company's capabilities with specific Microsoft-based technologies. This ranking helps customers who are looking for a particular type of solution. “Customers expect professional services firms to maintain a high level of certification and competency,” says d'Entremont. “This certification puts us in the big leagues."
Although Nicom gets a lot of press for their international contracts, the lion's share of their business happens right in Atlantic Canada. Both business partners love what Nova Scotia has to offer both residents and workers. "Nova Scotia has a good pace of life and I think that translates into the business side of things," says d'Entremont. "It's small enough that you get to know a lot of people, but large enough to enjoy a variety of activities and events." He adds that there is also an abundance of business activity with many networking opportunities.
One of the ways that d'Entremont gets his name out there is by writing a monthly column in the Halifax Herald called "Business Technology." The business audience he reaches benefits from a personal examination of situations that he or his company have experienced. "I try to write in non-technical terms and yet provide a little bit of technology expertise." Along the same vein, d'Entremont has recently created a blog on the Nicom website which he hopes to grow into an online community of people sharing helpful information with each other.
The idea of community is of paramount importance to Nicom. The concept of social responsibility is one of the pillars that they've built the business on. To that end, the company lends its expertise and people power to helping local organizations. The Nova Scotia Christmas Daddies program and the Bluenose Chapter of the Canadian Information Processing Society have both benefitted from websites and the creation of e-commerce gateways. "As a small company, it can be hard to know where to give, when you’ve only got so much time and so many resources," says d'Entremont. "That said, we believe it's important to give to good causes."