Business is a tough game in New Plymouth

Business is a tough game in New Plymouth


Husband and wife team Steve and Wendy Mayes have been involved in computer gaming for 30 years.

This led to them to start selling computer gaming parts online, eventually creating a full-time business which now has plans to expand across the Tasman.

The couple, who have lived in New Plymouth for 21 years, launched Modster PC in 2003 after they tried sourcing Thermaltake parts from Taiwan for a personal project. The maker asked them to distribute their products.

The name, Modster PC, reflects its core business which is importing and distributing computer modification parts. Products include gaming style computer cases, acrylic cases and computer modification parts such as case lighting, LED-lit cooling fans and high-end hardware.

Modster PC initially sold online only and via TradeMe. A growing demand from Kiwis who were keen on building and modifying their own computers, especially for gaming purposes, made the site extremely busy. The couple's encouraged this interest by sponsoring and sending teams to LAN games.

By 2007, Modster PC had grown so much that Steve and Wendy quit their management and technical consultancy roles with Tegel Foods and Inghams Australia respectively, to run the business full-time.

Further growth by 2009 led the couple to open a sales and service retail store offering parts as well as building full systems. Despite opening at the start of a recession, the Modster PC store later moved to larger business premises in central New Plymouth and the compaby now employs four staff.

Steve says Modster PC has always been popular with the gaming fraternity, with gaming putting it at the forefront of technology. A good reputation for quality and backup spread by word-of-mouth is also helping establish the business in mainstream computing.

"Our tip to survival is to treat every customer as important and be prompt and efficient so that customers are without their computers for as short as time as possible. We also run our business with integrity," he says.

Modster PC's customer base has extended from gamers to home PC users and business clients, such as onshore and offshore oil companies. It also works with a mobile technician who covers an area from Mokau in the north to Patea in the south, including Opunaki and Hawera.

In addition to selling custom-built and desktop computers, teh company also sells many laptops.

While New Plymouth provides a strong customer base, the website also adds a national range, plus a growing international market.

"What makes us different is that we are involved in the gaming community and are experienced gamers ourselves. We understand the requirements of the computer hardware needed to run these games for maximum performance in a constantly evolving market," Steve explains.

This customer knowledge has helped ModsterPC to produce high end gaming rigs which it markets under the MPC brand.

"The advantage for what we do here is there is little competition with the high end gaming enthusiast market," he continues.

However, competition in the small business market is tough in New Plymouth, which was "a challenge" to enter, but as Modster PC becomes better known, small business custom is increasing. Though gaming remains a high priority, a diversified Modster PC is finding "great demand" for service and repair and building full systems for home PC users.

Steve says the website also helps with promotion, allowing Modster PC to showcase products, and its online sales add to keeping the business visible in a highly competitive market.

The couple say they have a good relationship with suppliers Altech, Dove, Anyware, OCNZ, Synnex and PB Technologies. They favour Toshiba laptops, and for custom builds, Gigabyte motherboards, Samsung drives and LG monitors.

The 'hot' items at the moment are laptops and tablets, although the high-end gaming PC is still in big demand. For the gaming market, the couple were excited to see the ATO Series 7 cards arrive and they are looking forward to the release of the Intel Sandy Bridge Bridge-E series CPUs.

This year the company plans to strengthen its web presence with a new website for the Australian market and the couple say things are "looking pretty good" for 2012.

"Although it has not always been plain sailing and there have been some tough times we've had to get through, overall we have found that doing this business full-time has been very enjoyable and has been the source of a lot of fun," Steve adds.

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