When Rocom Wireless managing director Steve Borich first moved into IT almost 15 years ago, many cellphones were Motorola "bricks" costing $6395.
Having just turned 65, with grandchildren on the way, Borich is retiring from an industry poised to leap into a new age of wireless mobile data devices.
The Hamilton-born Aucklander has been at the mobile communications specialist for seven years, first as national sales manager and then as managing director for the past two years.
"It's about time I stepped down. We have done all the things we wanted to do. The company is in a good position to take advantage of wireless computing. But all these things made me feel life is passing by. Most of my friends have retired," he says.
Borich has worked in sales most of his life and had tourism and motor sales businesses until the 1987 stockmarket crash. He then joined Motorola as a sales manager and later Unicom as sales manager in the corporate sector, before joining Rocom in 1994. He plans to stay on part-time at Rocom as a director and work on special projects, suggesting total retirement might drive him mad. But the firm plans to find a new MD by the year-end.
Borich says the last 15 months have been "pretty stressful" due to Rocom having a flotation on the stock exchange's new capital market; Rocom has in that time created a dedicated wireless computing division and set up a world billing services subsidiary.
Over the past seven years Borich says the firm first concentrated on the consumer end of the phone market, selling through shopping malls, before becoming more business-focused as Telecom's main corporate cellular dealer. Two years ago the company looked at mobile data and began chasing the fresh opportunities offered by this emerging technology.
In the time since he first stepped through the doors at Motorola Borich says cellphones have changed from being a business tool to a fast moving consumer good (FCMG) and back to the business sphere with mobile data.
Borich says CDMA technology has opened the door to make mobile data happen and 3G and 4G technologies (such as video) will follow. The cellular phone will be an even more important part of our lives than now, he says.
"The cellphone and computing technologies are converging. There will be some interesting products coming up," he says.