Dragon PC managing director Alex Ting is among friends after establishing his technology business.
The Malaysian native came to New Zealand in 1992 to study civil engineering at Canterbury University, but began helping friends to sort out their computer problems. He says he made many connections through this type of work.
“I started working at home. I helped people solve their computer problems and gave them an idea what they needed for their budget. Slowly, I met a lot of friends.”
The business was launched in 1999 and some of Ting’s friends have even become his staff. The six personnel work across two sites — one in suburban Riccarton and a branch in Sydenham.
The Sydenham branch opened first, with an expansion to Riccarton in 2004.
“They all used to be my customers and we all became firm friends because we all had the same passion for computers,” Ting says.
Dragon PC serves Christchurch and the surrounding districts. Its offerings focus on services, repair consultancy and sales.
“We supply to friends who work in business, and the home user. I like to think that all the customers will become friends because working in the IT area [involves working] long hours. At the end of the day, we don’t have much time left to meet other people,” he says.
Dragon PC also has a website to serve customers nationwide, and uses it to provide daily specials. Ting says the website generates about 20 percent of the business’ revenue.
He is a firm believer in allowing staff to do the type of work they enjoy.
“We like to learn about new technology, give customers the best solution for their needs and help customers fix their problems as best we can.
“The most challenging thing is we try to balance doing what we like and keeping the business running at the same time,” he says.
Dragon PC has an extensive range of higher-end, custom built PCs, often used for gaming.
It uses Christchurch-based Dove Electronics and Auckland-based Synnex and Ingram Micro for product supply.
He says business is cyclical and depends on the student numbers of the nearby universities. He believes Christchurch youth are not into gaming as much as Auckland counterparts.
“Very few people buy machines just for gaming. A lot of people will use their machines for their work. In Auckland it is common to see cybercafes full of gamers. Here it is more tourists just checking their email,” he says.
“This is also a student area, like Dunedin. When the students arrive we get business from them buying computers and wanting help in getting them set up.”
Ting observes a trend toward people trying to fix their computers rather than buy new.
“As we all know, we are in recession at the moment,” he says.
Because of the downturn, Dragon PC closed an outlet in the northern suburb of Avonside, though the staff transferred to its other stores.
Last year, Dragon PC also moved from central Riccarton, opposite the busy mall, to larger but cheaper premises further along Riccarton Road.
“We are in a better spot here and it has helped the business quite a lot,” Ting says. “We tried to take advantage of the recession by moving to a better location to get more foot traffic, improve our website and work for a better way [of managing] stock control,” he says.
Dragon PC recently implemented a stock control system that gives daily reports and allows the company to run specials if it is overstocked.