Bright Star PC is about to enter a growth stage with plans to open a new shop, accompanied by a website refresh.
The last time Reseller News chatted with Stephen Carr, in 2009, he was only 20 years old, but already had four years of business experience under his belt.
“I started this business when I was almost 17 and now I’m 24," says Carr, who spoke to Reseller News again in early September. "It doesn’t seem unusual to me, but everyone else keeps telling me it is."
In the last three years, Carr says, the company has established a retail shop in Amberley, just north of Christchurch, selling peripherals and copier services. The one-time sole proprietor has taken on two more employees. And in the coming months, when Carr opens another retail outlet, with print and copy services, more staff surely will be on the way.
"There’s been quite a considerable amount of growth," says Carr. "We’ve got the workshop out the back. There’s now three staff and we’re plodding along, keeping out of mischief really.”
"Plodding along" seems an understatement for a company about to expand during a recession, not to mention the impact the earthquakes have had on the Canterbury region, though his shop was spared any physical damage.
"We’re far enough out of Christchurch to have had any damage," Carr says. "We took about a week off after the February quake and we were in town helping people and shovelling silt and things.
In other ways, it has been business as usual for Bright Star. It still carries the "essential bits and bobs" Carr says, "cables, cartridges, speakers, mice". Other products come through its distributor, Dove, many of them with same-day delivery. Bright Star also uses a local courier for door-to-door service.
Carr says population growth in Amberley is changing the flavour of doing business in this small, but expanding town.
“It used to be that you knew just about every single person and now it’s got to the point where 50 per cent of the people are all new," says Carr. "We’re getting to know all of them. It’s just a shame that it’s an earthquake that made this happen.”
“But looking at the bigger picture from the earthquakes, our area is definitely growing," he says. "We’ve got a much larger population now and we expect to go from a small town of about 1200 people to about 5000. We’re all set for major development and we’re ready to take the next growth step."
Carr says his younthful sense of enterprise precluded the social aspects of going to university.
“I just started fixing computers because my high school accounting teacher said this is what you should be doing," Carr says. "I thought at some stage I would stop doing that and go to university and get a real job. Now seven years on, I’ve got ambitions for where I want to be in the future. But back when I started I didn’t really have any, to be honest."
Carr says he did some study at Christchurch Polytechnic, and while he regrets missing out on the social life there, he has plenty of friends in town.
Carr certainly seems to have given a lot of thought to the future. Bright Star is heading deeper into the print and copy services business, part of his strategy that diversification will expand opportunity in a small market. Bright Star continues to do new builds and computer repairs, and is investigating a move to a larger space, taking advantage of a mall opening in the area soon.
"We’ve got a lot of little things to try and push us forward and hopefully get us to that next step,” Carr says. “It’s a bit of a tricky one. Because we’re not in an urban environment there’s a lot of demand for certain things in our area, and where we see that it’s achievable we try and encompass that into the services that we offer without affecting other services that we already offer."
"To be honest," Carr adds, "based on our location, I don’t think we could afford to specialise. I think we need to keep the different revenue streams open so that if one particular area doesn’t do particularly well the other one can prop you up. We’re trying to provide a service where people come to us for a particular thing and then realise that we do a whole lot more and then we start to build an even bigger relationship than just fixing their computer.”