People who benefitted from James Parker’s computer repairs during his younger years in the UK always encouraged him to open an IT shop. Their encouragement paid off when he opened his first one in Somerset, England, aged just 19, in the 1990s.
Although born in the UK, Parker spent some of his teenage years in South Africa, and arrived in New Zealand in the early 2000s when he was 26.
He initially worked as a service technician for a Hamilton IT firm, but built up business outside of this by advertising on the local supermarket noticeboard for his home computer repair services.
“I made more money doing repairs at home in Taupiri than I did working in Hamilton,” he says.
Two years on, the urge returned to once again run his own business.
In 2004, he opened Computer Consultancy and Recycle IT in Ngaruawahia, shifting to his current, larger premises a year later to accommodate growth.
“This was the best move I made. I have space here. We are able to cater for the public with a lot more services,” he says.
As well as sales and repairs, his services include scanning, emailing and photo printing, along with a cybercafe and computer recycling.
“I am a collector of old, vintage computers, which started when I was in England. I brought 26 huge boxes, half a [shipping] container crate with me. I did not bring any clothes, just a suitcase of computers,” he says.
The recycling side of the business also allows Parker to build up his collection of old computer equipment.
“I love it. This is part of my life. I intend having a museum one day,” he says.
Under the recycling division, responsible for a tenth of Parker’s business, he strips down old PCs and resells useful parts on eBay and Trade Me.
“This is what most recyclers do. It is big business now,” he says.
Computer Consultancy also specialises in setting up satellite dishes and Freeview, which is responsible for a quarter of the business.
The business mainly serves the Waikato region, with some customers in Auckland and Tauranga. Business customers account for about half of the revenues. Offering remote support, along with online sales, means some customers are as far afield as Nelson, as well.
Parker says he is always looking for new technologies to sell. One example is the Car PC, a personal computer for the car, of which he has sold about 15. He also retails cellphones.
The company’s other point of difference is affordability, Parker claims, saying his location means costs are lower than for other IT business, and there is free parking for customers.
Parker employs four staff and says finding employees is hard because of his location.
“[Job seekers] think Ngaruawahia is in the middle of nowhere. The township has a stigma to it. The crime and things here can be bad,” he says.
Parker says he been the victim of crime more than once, saying when he took the shop window bars down, thieves smashed the windows and tried to take televisions. Another time, he says a $1000 worth of games were stolen.
“I get my fair share of headaches from theft. We just have to overcome it. A lot of it is human error and not being on the ball. The bars were back up the same day.”
The business is successful he says, mainly because people need printing services.
“People bring in old photos to [copy to] CDs, [and want to copy] movies to CDs. I think we are probably one of the busiest shops in town.”