Our member interview this month is with Martin and Elizabeth Holzke of SoftQualM and ISO in the Sun. Martin and Elizabeth were a delight to meet and considering they were due to move house the following day they were extremely accommodating and hospitable.
LBRA. Hi Martin and Elizabeth, thanks for taking the time to meet us, how long have you been in Lanzarote, how are enjoying it and of course why Lanzarote?
Martin/Elizabeth. We arrived on October 1st 2014 and we absolutely love it, our best decision ever, the climate is wonderful. Martin then continues, it was actually a sheer accident that we first came to Lanzarote, I knew about the Canary Islands but as a child I lived in North Germany so our holidays tended to be spent in more Northern Countries. A few years ago Elizabeth and I were on holiday in Malta and were approached by a holiday company, not time-share but a holiday club. Anyway we were offered a week’s holiday in Lanzarote we said make it two and we will go. We arrived and found ourselves at Los Molinos in Costa Teguise and we just fell in love with the island. We came back at various times throughout the year to “test” the weather and found it perfect. We love the relaxed pace, the attitude compared to other islands is better and we find it an “anything goes“ type of style. The heat is hot but not overbearing like other places we have visited for example Barcelona and Budapest which was too hot, but here it stays reasonably comfortable the whole year round. We spent six weeks here over the Christmas/New Year period in 2013 and that sealed the deal.
LBRA. Is Lanzarote meeting your expectations?
Elizabeth. Yes, yes and yes and it’s a yes from Martin as well.
LBRA. You were previously in Scotland can you tell us a bit more about that.
Martin. My work allows me to work anywhere in the world and I moved to Scotland from Germany in 2001. I met Elizabeth over Hogmanay 2007 and we later married. I have always been self-employed and Elizabeth quickly came on board and is now my “right hand person” while also starting her own business.
LBRA. So your business is SoftQualM which also runs ISO in the Sun, can you tell us more about that
Martin. Well we specialise in Information Security, Business Continuity and Risk Management. As previously mentioned the work I do can be based anywhere. SoftQualM began in Germany 25 years ago and when I moved to Scotland I took the business with me, very much the same as when we moved to Lanzarote. The business began in software development and training and then developed into the whole business which now includes security and risk consultancy as well training in those areas. They are all business linked and so work together nicely as a complete circle of services. Elizabeth looks after the general administration, paperwork and is also an invigilator for the exams. I am a UKAS Assessor in UK for those areas. Basically I audit the auditor which is the next level over what I also do which is train the auditors to the ISO standards that UKAS accredits. I still train and audit worldwide and I now also do a lot of remote online training to the United States and other countries from here.
The idea of ISO in the Sun is to give people the opportunity to enjoy training in a different style of environment. The cost for the delegates can be amazingly cheaper than attending a course elsewhere, even when factoring in flight costs. Accommodation here is less expensive, for example we recently had a delegate from the UK who found that by having his training here it cost him 3 times less than what it would have done staying in a London hotel with expensive travel costs. Delegates can of course arrange to bring friends and family and combine the stay with a holiday. We also find that attendees benefit from the relaxed surroundings, for example we normally factor in a one hour lunch break but often find that we spent longer chatting over tapas and the hour stretches to 90 minutes. No one ever minds that this means staying on later in the afternoon as for those delegates staying in the hotel they are already “home” and for any locals attending they do not have to face a torturous motorway journey in treacherous weather conditions. Here it’s more a question of air con on or roof down? Well who could complain about that!
LBRA. How easy/difficult have you found setting up a business in Lanzarote? Any pitfalls or recommendations/advice you could offer to others?
Martin. Have to say we found it super easy to set up the business, obviously our business was already established but we did not really have any problems. My advice would be to use a good accountant and prior to your move come out and sit down with the accountant and discuss everything thoroughly and ensure you are ready for when you arrive, never try and do things on your own.
LBRA. What if any changes would you like to see in Lanzarote?
Martin. The main thing would be internet connection, the whole infrastructure seriously needs to be improved but apart from that nothing major, everything is nice just as it is.
LBRA. Best things about living in Lanzarote?
Elizabeth. Sun, sea, beach and the people, and Martin agrees. We swim in the sea every day, lie in the sun, combine this with tapas and vino followed by a siesta what could be better? Of course the cost of living is so much cheaper than the UK, so all things considered it’s a great life. We try hard to integrate with the locals and to practice our Spanish with them, we have in fact just arranged to meet up and exchange language with the girl in our local coffee shop.
LBRA. Is there anything you miss from your previous life in the UK?
Martin / Elizabeth. The “rain” they both say and laugh and having to drive nearly 3 hours to the nearest airport, so no there is nothing we miss. Elizabeth recalls that she used to look forward to going back and shopping but no longer enjoys that as she has everything she needs here.
LBRA. How do you like to relax?
Martin / Elizabeth. Both laugh again, beach, swim, tapas and vino followed by a siesta. Elizabeth also enjoys washing as it is such a joy to be able to get things washed and dried in the same day, a novelty after Scotland where things could take days to dry! We also enjoy mixing with the locals and attending local fiesta’s etc. Martin is also an avid collector and connoisseur of single malt whisky.
LBRA. We expect you have had lots of family and friends visit you where do you like to take them?
Martin / Elizabeth. Timanfaya, Orzola, La Graciosa, Puerto Calero and the Submarine Safari, La Geria and anywhere off the beaten track where we can show them the real Lanzarote.
LBRA. Anything that would surprise people to know about you?
Martin / Elizabeth. Most people are surprised by what we actually do. For example the business we have and the amount of travelling we do for work, travelling extensively throughout Europe and worldwide. Whilst we are keen to develop our business in Lanzarote we do not want to lose what we already have and that’s the freedom to travel and work.
Elizabeth. I make homemade sweets, in particular delicious fudge. In Scotland this was my business for many years, making sweets and fudge, handmade chocolates and selling them at fairs, markets and exhibitions. I also had many private commissions for weddings, celebrations etc and am keen to start this side of the business again in Lanzarote. Martin would often be away working maybe in America or Germany and could arrive home and within hours would be donning his apron and helping me at an exhibition, and he actually really enjoyed it.
LBRA. 5 words to describe Lanzarote?
Elizabeth had to answer this one as Martin could not contain his reply to 5 words, his description was a novel in itself, haha
Elizabeth. Mysterious, Inviting, Small (but not crowded) Beautiful, Friendly.
Thank you both so very much, I have to say we laughed our way through most of this interview as Martin and Elizabeth our both extremely warm and entertaining people and it was our pleasure to meet them, and we wish them good luck with their new ventures in Lanzarote.
If you would like to contact Martin or Elizabeth then call, email or skype
Phone/Mobile +34 609 124 289