One of the region’s best-known providers of IT business solutions is looking to establish a name for itself in Newton Aycliffe – and a familiar face to the area is leading the charge.
County Durham-born and raised Gemma Holmes has been the business development manager at Cornerstone Business Solutions for the last 18 months.
Her focus now is predominantly to build relationships across Aycliffe Business Park to highlight how the 15-year-old Stockton-based IT, digital and telecoms company can work for you.
Cornerstone is a managed service provider (MSP), effectively providing IT support and system design for an organisation’s networks with clients across the United Kingdom and beyond.
Now Gemma, who has vast experience of working in the Newton Aycliffe area, is looking to extend Cornerstone’s reach, ironically, much closer to home.
Gemma said: “I’m from Darlington, I was born there, so I have always been in that vicinity.
“As well as it being my home, the surrounding areas like Aycliffe are where I have tended to work with local businesses.
“We are a well-known Teesside-based business and I’m looking to branch us out further afield, to Darlington, Aycliffe, Richmond and throughout County Durham and North Yorkshire.
“We would love to build up a base of clients in Newton Aycliffe to then warrant a branch and engineers located here.
“I would love us to be the main IT provider for Aycliffe Business Park and become the main IT company of choice for it.”
Gemma has spent more than 17 years in the Aycliffe area working with manufacturing and logistics companies within the recruitment sector.
It is those such contacts that she is talking to in a bid to help Cornerstone grow in County Durham.
She said: “Knowing Aycliffe as I do, I think a lot of people like to use local or familiar people to work and refer to. They tend to try to keep work in that area if they can and expand in that area.
“Aycliffe is a tight community – like Teesside. With me growing up in Darlington and the County Durham area, I know I am a familiar face to many and referrals go a long way too so we are looking forward to building those relationships and showing what we can do.”
Cornerstone, through Gemma, are not just looking to build up their own client base, they are also keen to work with charities and good causes – something they are renowned for on Teesside, where they recently moved into new headquarters at Preston Farm.
Cornerstone heavily supports the Keep Aycliffe Clean initiative by joining in with litter picks for example, they have helped to pack boxes for other businesses and they have even hired out a coffee van on the business park for anyone to head for a drink.
Gemma said: “We are very active on that front so we would love to hear about any events over that way where we might be able to help.
“It would be nice to have a chat to see what we could do. We also look after a number of charities in terms of their IT support already.
“But we are looking to get involved in the town, in the area, with awards nights, whether that is for businesses or something else. It would be nice to engage in the Aycliffe and County Durham community.”
The Cornerstone Group, of which Business Solutions is one of five strands, has continued to grow over the years under the directorship of Chris Petty and Chris Bibby.
Business Solutions is the most successful arm of the group and it has grown significantly over the years; having initially worked with Teesside companies and progressed to managing networks across the country.
Chris Bibby, sales director, said: “The world is a much smaller place now. There is less hardware involved these days because of cloud computing.
“We will head out to sites when we need to but the vast majority of calls are done remotely – in fact I’d say 19 times out of 20 calls are done remotely.
“More users are using Office 365 or Azzure and that means the vast majority of calls you are now resolving aren’t on site.
“Given what we have achieved already, the engineers we have, the fact that remote access is a huge part of what we do, we have clients in the South, Midlands, Aberdeen, a global client – so we can look after people all over the world.”
But Cornerstone isn’t looking too far away for new clients right now – in fact just 15 miles away in Newton Aycliffe.
Chris said: “Given the fact we do have clients all over the place, it seems silly we have an untapped resource in Aycliffe almost on our doorstep.
“It is one of the biggest business parks in Europe and it’s nice for Gemma to introduce Cornerstone to that area.
“There is no reason we shouldn’t have clients over there. We have clients with five users and then other clients with 1,000 users – we look after big and small clients.
“There’s no reason why we can’t do what we do, which is offer our award-winning work to more and more clients in different areas and build a name for ourselves in areas of County Durham like Aycliffe too.”
And who better to lead that push than someone who has the area at heart.
Chris added: “Gemma has the knowledge of the geography over there and the culture. She has good contacts and knows her way around Aycliffe Business Park.
“Gemma will be popping up at networking events and looking to stick our Cornerstone flag in the ground.
“We just think it seems silly that we aren’t operating too much in the area – and we’d love that to change.”
For further information on how Cornerstone Business Solutions can work for you, go to cornerstonebs.co.uk.