THE official opening of a state-of-the-art network operations and business IT support centre, staffed by 20 highly trained computer engineers at the head office of Pro-Networks Ltd, this month will mark a milestone for Chester businessman Paul Crudge.

For it will be practical confirmation of a conviction that high quality and intelligent computer network support is an essential component of any business, wherever it is based and whatever its activity.

“When I started this enterprise with my business partner Rob Meakin in 2002, there were dozens of one-man bands and small teams from all sorts of background offering IT support,” said Paul, MD of Sandycroft-based Pro-Networks.

“We were convinced it was quality of support that would count, so we invested in highly qualified support staff, all of whom were Microsoft certified.”

Paul, whose grandfather was chief engineer at Cadbury’s, clearly inherited the family talent for science and engineering. He said: “I was eight when I asked my mother for a soldering iron for Christmas instead of an Action Man toy! Shortly after that I built my first crystal radio set in my bedroom.”

Educated at Ellesmere Port Grammar School, Paul spent a number of years in various fields of mechanical and electronic engineering, ending up as the technical director of a Gloucestershire-based manufacturing company.Š “We installed an early PC-based network in the late 80s,” recalls Paul. “The system was fantastic, but the support was awful. I ended up learning to support the system myself.”

Returning to his native Chester in 1996 and armed with a real enthusiasm for IT in the business world and skills in networking, Paul set up Network Solutions, offering IT network support to businesses locally and further afield.

“I became a Microsoft certified systems engineer in 2000 and knew that a professional level of training would give clients the confidence to know that we had the experience and the skills to keep their networks up and running so that they could continue to run their business, whatever the technical challenges.”

“Then I met my fellow director Rob at a networking meeting in Chester,” said Paul, who lives in Rowton. “Rob told me he loved programming and databases but wasn’t keen on PCs, servers and networking. I told him I loved networking but was happy to leave programming to others.

“The end result was Pro-Networks Ltd a company that monitors, supports and maintains business IT systems, often by remote control, locally, regionally and across the UK. The £150,000 refurbishment of our Sandycroft HQ confirms my view that businesses value the high quality professional service we provide.”

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