Napier’s Computer Connection has chalked up more than 25 years of trading and owner Tony Littleford says a company culture of fast service has helped build a network of loyal customers.
The company lays claim to being one of the oldest IT retailers in the area and focuses on serving small and medium-sized businesses. Littleford says many customers have stayed with the firm for more than 15 years.
“In an area the size of Hawkes Bay, if you don’t give good service, you won’t survive long. We all [IT service providers] seem to have our own bunch of clients and it has been like that for 20 years. As long as you service them well, with the right products, you will be fine,” he says.
Littleford bought the business in 1986 when it was four years old, and it currently employs five staff in its Napier branch and two in Hastings. It serves the greater Hawkes Bay region, extending as far as Waipukurau.
Prior to buying Computer Connection, Littleford, who used to work in his father’s supermarket, worked for an office supplies business. However, he says when that business exited technology sales he joined Computer Connection. At the time, he combined this with software programming for local businesses.
Littleford says fast, on-site service sets the company apart, and it can usually turn jobs around within 24 hours. It also builds PCs to match customer requirements and imports products from overseas. Littleford believes this gives the company a “jump on the market” of up to six months and a better product range to offer customers.
Computer Connection imports unbranded accessories from Taiwan and Hong Kong, and is also supplied locally by Arche Technologies, Ingram Micro, Canon, Datastor, Synnex, Dove and Exeed.
Such products include Seagate hard drives, Viewsonic monitors and Asus or Intel motherboards for PC assembly. It offers HP, Toshiba and MSI laptops.
Computer Connection also specialises in point of sale products, and many of its customers are in the retail sector. In addition, it offers Accredo and Fusion accounting software.
The company is currently turning over the business and Littleford says it was only affected by the recession for one month.
He says if a business has an IT problem such as being infected by a virus, they can bring machines to Computer Connection in the morning and they will be repaired and be back in operation at the customer’s premises by the afternoon.
“With the way the internet is people want to have their machines connected to the technology, even the home market. If they have a notebook, we can replace it, copy the data, the pictures, the music and have it up and running.”
Littleford observes notebooks are selling better than desktops and expects Windows 7 will be a pre-Christmas boost.
“We have been to [Windows 7] seminars over the past nine months. People doing the training ... are raving over it. I have never seen people so pleased with it early in the piece. We have played with it and think it’s pretty good. We already have it available in our machines.”
He also expects all-in-one computers from Viewsonic and MSI will also be popular sellers.
Littleford predicts PC-based home security will provide a lot of business next year, along with wireless technologies and the ability to use a home server to share photos, emails and music, between PCs.
He says his staff take a nimble approach to solving customers’ IT issues, having learned on the job.
“The guys in Napier and Hastings, even if they have never struck a problem before, they have the aptitude to solve the customer’s problem. In all the years I have been in business, there has only been a couple of instances where we could not solve the problem. We don’t have qualifications. Everyone has the aptitude to sit and work out the problem, [instead, we have] the hands on experience.”