Tamarack grows alongside industryHomegrown store a different species from southern competitors
Yellowknifer is turning its attention again to shopping local, with profiles of local businesses. We'll be asking business owners to describe what has contributed to their success in Yellowknife, and for any advice they may have for anyone else thinking of starting their own business.
Northern News Services
Published Wednesday, November 26, 2014
Dale Crouch, co-owner and co-founder of Tamarack Computers in Yellowknife. - Daron Letts/NNSL photo
The tamarack is much smaller than its southern cousins, but the hearty Boreal tree has the competitive advantage of being adaptable to a harsh and changing environment and is hardwired to succeed. It's an apt name for a downtown computer and IT services company.
For three decades, Tamarack Computers Ltd. has successfully weathered the fast-changing landscape of information technologies and evolved along with ever-changing computer systems.
"In 1985, it was a relatively new industry, so at that point we just opened it up and hoped for the best, as many new businesses do," said Dale Crouch, who established the company with then-business partner David Wind.
The company grew, and today employs 11 staff, including Crouch and his two latest business partners - his son, IT consultant Robert Crouch, and purchaser Dana Mah.
"We have 11 staff because we are supported by the community," said Dale. "We don't just work here, we live here - we have raised kids here. You get back what you give."
The multi-faceted business operates as a retail store, selling Hewlett-Packard and Livovo computers and accessories, a computer and IT training centre, a PC service shop and provides IT consulting and services.
Tamarack's retail storefront occupies about one-quarter of the 914-square-metre unit in Yk Centre, with the service area, administration and consulting office, and adjacent training centre taking up the remainder in equal measure.
The training centre sprouted early on, after Giant Mine approached the company in 1985 to provide a temporary venue for a one-month project.
"We took a chance and bought 12 machines," said Dale.
The project lasted three months and after that the company hired a trainer for a six-month contract. The training centre proved so popular, a full-time trainer was hired within the year.
Tamarack assists small, local businesses with IT services, helping to choose software programs, establish new systems and train staff. In other cases, they outsource IT services to a business.
"We work with a lot of businesses that aren't big enough to have IT staff," said Dale.
The company works with a lot of boards and agencies throughout the territories, from Whitehorse and Norman Wells to Iqaluit and Cambridge Bay, and many places in between.
Although many Tamarack clients are locally-owned small businesses and organizations, a growing number of large corporations opening offices in the North also come knocking.
"We have to do a lot of work for a lot of those larger companies who don't have a local presence here," said Robert.
Giving back to the community is a big part of Tamarack's socially-responsible approach, said Mah.
Staff have provided pro bono services for charitable organizations, such as hooking up a point-of-sale system for the Elk's Club's lounge space and setting up and hosting a website for the Rotary Club. The company has also donated equipment to St. John Ambulance.
The company also provides an annual internship for a student training with the Yellowknife Association for Community Living's school-to-work program.
"They get a bit of experience that hopefully they can use later in life," said Dale.
Yellowknife has changed a lot from the community of around 7,000 people that surrounded Tamarack when it opened and the company has embraced the challenges and opportunities the last 30 years have brought.
"We've moved from a backwater mining town to a small world-discovered capital city," said Dale.
From the closure of the gold mines and division to online shopping and devolution, Tamarack found its niche.