Having a prime site in central Kaikoura has brought extra trade for Maynestream Technologies, the only reseller in the picturesque tourist destination.
Its co-owners are Picton-born technician Chris Mayne, formerly of Millennium Technology, and business manager wife Nicky Mayne, a former site manager for a charity. The pair left Hamilton to open the business in the township in early 2002.
The business serves an area from Cheviot to Kekerengu, but they admit the location has its challenges despite Kaikoura’s beauty.
Initially, the Maynes ran the business from home, but three years after starting they found a corner site next to the main street, which capitalises on passing traffic on SH1.
“South Bay [where the business was home-based] did not have the profile. Even though Kaikoura is a small place, people did not know what we did. We do sales and servicing. We thought we would be front of mind for our customer base and people would take us more seriously,” Nicky explains.
“It certainly has increased our business as we expected, but it increased costs. We did need a higher profile, but we’re not sure if it’s worth the extra cost.”
Maynestream concentrates on small and medium businesses and home users, while there is also a Smith’s City retail store in the area.
“We are doing more on-site work than we used to, with people not wanting to bring their computers in. But there has not been the request for managed services,” Nicky says.
Repairing printers and electronics is another mainstay and the business has contracts with companies like Fuelquip and Datacom, doing after-hours and weekend callout work.
It has a Brother repair franchise, and Christchurch-headquartered Dove Electronics is Maynestream’s main distributor.
“[Dove’s service is] personal enough and we can get [supplies] the next day,” Nicky says.
She adds the business is increasingly offering Acer systems rather than building its own, which reduces the time spent on servicing costs.
Nicky says Kaikoura is unique because it has a relatively high number of businesses for the size of the region. Businesses such as motels and those that are home-based have multiple income streams, but owners expect to pay far less than in cities while expecting similar quality. Broadband is also being upgraded in the town, with many in outlying areas reliant on satellite broadband.
Kaikoura is also a late adopter of new technologies, Nicky says, adding laptop and desktop use in the region is evenly split.
“One advantage is we can see trends and in two to three years [greater laptop use] might be happening here. Colour laser has been out a long time. It became affordable a few years ago, but it is only now Kaikoura businesses are starting to look at colour laser,” she says.
Maynestream has one other staff member — a friend who joined the firm from SBS Technologies in Rotorua.
“If he left, there would be no other technicians. We’d have to import them if we needed new staff.
“Because computer issues change all the time, it’s nice to have [a technician] around who may have seen [a particular] problem before.”
At present, servicing offers greater revenue than sales and is more recession-proof, they say.
The pair say this has been the businesses’ best year to date, with a sales increase over the summer caused by Kaikoura’s annual influx of tourists. Business drops off over winter, though servicing is constant year-round.
Radio advertising tends to work well, with a recent campaign helping shift old stock.
But Maynestream is looking at cutting costs this year, including returning to being a home business after the store lease runs out in October.
“We have a prime spot but we are paying for it, one of the highest per square metre rates in town. We sold our house in Hamilton to come down here and houses have gone up 300-400 percent [in value] since, so we cannot afford to buy. It would be nice to buy a coastal property here, but it’s dearer than Hamilton. The shop has never done well enough for us to buy a house freehold,” Nicky says,
But Nicky and Chris have a young family and are content to put their children first, which also means keeping weekends free for them and enjoying the country lifestyle.
“Chris is currently trying to buy an off-road motorbike for the hills. He certainly loves nature and wants to get out more. I am busy with family and I’m very involved with the church and catching up with people,” Nicky adds.