Utilities experts net good result for fisheries company

18 April 2016

When you have a global supply chain delivering premium live seafood and chilled fresh fish to domestic and overseas markets, there is little room for communications, business process or system errors.

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Aotearoa Fisheries Limited is the largest Maori-owned fisheries company and it’s been harvesting, processing and delivering live, chilled and frozen seafood since its establishment in 2004. It harvests, processes and delivers chilled, canned and frozen seafood and ready to eat products to over 20 countries.

For the past five years Aotearoa Fisheries has been working with utilities procurement specialists, Total Utilities, to ensure that their telecommunications/ICT, natural gas, electricity suppliers are providing high levels of service at the best price.

Independent ICT Strategic Review

When David Spratt, Director of ICT at Total Utilities, carried out a strategic review of Aotearoa Fisheries IT architecture, hardware and management in 2015, he brought 30 years of experience in senior ICT roles to the table.

Aotearoa Fisheries had recently moved to a new IT provider supplying Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), with one division retaining and maintaining its own servers. The business was interested in comparing the two approaches as well as benchmarking costs against other providers in the market.

Photo by Aotearoa Fisheries

Photo by Aotearoa Fisheries

“The outcome was a comprehensive report which compared our costs with market prices and included a number of helpful comments and recommendations,” said Angus McFarlane, Group Information Systems Manager. “As part of the process David went to great lengths, interviewing both the IT support company and IaaS provider as part of the process.

“It was good for our CFO to gain an independent view from the experts. The review was in-depth and thorough. It was definitely not a political or surface report and added a lot of value to our organisation.”

Negotiating the right telecommunications contract had the potential to be equally complex. At Aotearoa Fisheries service delivery is just as important as price. When there’s half a tonne of live crayfish to land, being able to communicate quota availability and landing location to the skipper is paramount – not to mention ensuring that a refrigerated truck is ready and waiting to meet the boat. Any logistical delays can be costly.

When Aotearoa Fisheries called Total Utilities in to manage their latest telecommunications RFP the result was quite dramatic. “We decided to move away from the incumbent provider to a new-generation network aggregator that is very customer service-centric,” continued Angus.

“The broad experience that Total Utilities brought to bear made a significant impact on the process. We value the fact that they possess a network of contacts across the whole utilities sector but have no allegiance to any one supplier, and therefore can provide that independent market assessment.”


Aotearoa Fisheries worked with Total Utilities to create a decision matrix which weighted a wide range of factors like account management, adoption of new technology, reporting and invoicing. Angus commented.

“We wanted a partner to see us right for the next five years so we couldn’t leave anything to chance. We have to be agile in order to meet the demands of our markets and products – if we’ve got boats fishing from a new location we need a robust network service to get the catch to the right place, live and in perfect condition.”

With over 25 years of experience in ICT and particular expertise in telephony, unified communications, data networking and managed services, Mike Ette at Total Utilities was in a strong position to help. “We are really happy with the outcome,” confirmed Angus. “The next key phase will see us moving everything over to our new supplier.”

“Total Utilities don’t bring multiple layers to the engagement. We deal with senior people who know what they’re doing. They are the ones actually doing the work – we don’t get passed off to a junior,” he stressed. “Total Utilities people are very easy to do business with and they know how to get to the crux of the matter. They make a real effort to understand our business and market.”

“We can trust Total Utilities, they are good value and very responsive. They are able to view the big picture from a strategic point of view and apply their expertise. They don’t just deal in theory but are used to applying real world solutions. If you just need an organisation to get into the nuts and bolts of your IT or telecoms infrastructure, Total Utilities is definitely the right company.”