Honolulu IT company strikes computer gold

Ricky Zheng
Ricky Zheng

By Teri Okita – bio | email

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - When you're speeding down the information superhighway or you're working on an important project - and your computer crashes - who do you call? The I-T guy, right?

Honolulu computer company, ZR Systems Group, has taken "troubleshooting" to a whole new level and turned a small idea into big business.

Five years ago, I-T tech Ricky Zheng had a lightbulb moment. "I was a risk taker, and I just felt like I needed to do something different," explains Zheng.

He decided to go out on his own - working with businesses that didn't have the money or expertise to hire in-house technical staff or didn't really know what an I-T tech does.

"So, we're trying to eliminate that and said, Hey, let us take care of your I-T. Let's provide your managed I-T services. Instead of you have to worry about one employee, you have a whole team to help you at the same cost as one employee. And what we do is - you don't have to worry about sick leave. You don't have to worry about vacation time. We'll be there."

His team now consists of six employees. In the first year, they made 96 thousand dollars in sales. Last year, it was 580 thousand ... And growing.

Zheng, a McKinley and UH grad, started the company in his old bedroom of his parents' house. Many thought it was a lousy idea.

"At the time, the economy had just started to tank. So, everybody thought I was crazy, but I was thinking, 'You know what? When disaster hits, that's the best type of opportunity.' That's when people need help the most."

Zheng struck computer gold. Three-fourths of their business comes from healthcare clients - from Wahiawa General to a two-person doctor's office, and in the I-T business, they've found it's 10 percent technology and 90 percent dealing with customers. Sometimes ... frantic, desperate customers.

"Like a lifesaver, I guess they say, " says one of ZR's computer technicians, Chris Ohnheiser. "One of the team members says, 'Superman'. You know, we help rescue."

In August, Pacific Business News named ZR Systems Group one of Hawaii's 50 fastest growing companies. It ranked number 16, and Zheng says he'd like to make the top 10 next year.

Zheng's advice for other small start-ups? Stay flexible, stay on top of things -a and don't be afraid to seize an opportunity.

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