After joining the Pacific anti-nuclear protests, where he met his New Zealand wife, German-born Thomas Everth moved to the Coromandel and set up TE Software.
Now, working from home, Everth serves the Coromandel township and surrounding area with a range of hardware and software services. As well, he is an in-demand designer of websites for organisations across New Zealand.
When sitting in his downstairs office, Everth can hear tuis and see bush stretching for miles around – a far cry from the stresses of life in the heavily urbanised Europe.
Everth studied physics at university and went straight into the nascent software industry. In 1984, two years after entering the industry, he and fellow physicist Kai Brunning formed a company called B&E.
The pair wrote a desktop publishing application “RagTime” for the Apple Mac, which was successful throughout Europe in the late 1980s and early 1990s.
In 1991, Everth sold his share of B&E and based himself in the US for four years, working on selling RagTime to the US market, as well as developing other software products.
In 1995, he bought a 38-foot boat and sailed across the Pacific. The French had resumed their atomic tests at Mururoa Atoll and Everth sailed there to protest.
At the 12-mile exclusion zone around Mururoa Atoll, Everth met his wife, Aucklander Lisa Kearney, who had sailed there as crew on the R Tucker Thompson schooner.
Love blossomed in the choppy swells around the atoll and the couple spent the next year cruising the Pacific before settling down in the Coromandel. Their decision was based around the excellent sailing conditions, that it is handy to friends living in the area and, as a potter, Lisa sought an area noted for pottery.
For the first couple of years living in Coromandel, Everth worked on several mid-sized IT projects, such as retail billing systems as the energy sector was deregulated.
“It became evident that a growing number of businesses and households in Coromandel required IT assistance and I was the only resident with IT knowledge. Working here and there for a few clients developed into regular business, including the sale of any IT products that might be required,” Everth says.
TE Software offers a range of repair and troubleshooting services, as well as sales of new PCs, laptops, software, setting up networks along with broadband installation and assistance. Plus he does website design, including complex PHP/MySQL DB drive websites.
Everth says as far as he is aware there is no real competition in the small Coromandel community where he is well known. This high profile is helped by his environmental activism and writing a technology and environmental column in the local community newspaper.
The firm’s business is split between consumers and small businesses.
“There is just enough local business to make this worth my while, so there is really no place for a second business in town with the same offerings. Some people purchase computers in Thames and then call on my services for installation. But in most cases, my package deals are better than the competition from out of town,” Everth claims.
Thames is an hour’s drive away and Everth believes the distance helps keep the competition at bay, especially as he provides good service at a good price.
This means he cannot charge Auckland rates, but says he does enjoy a good lifestyle in the Coromandel, helped by half his business coming from out-of-town organisations wanting websites. Everth is even able to decline work if he wants to.
“It is certainly no place to get rich in this business but it is worthwhile. I don’t think the services I provide are unique. I get a fair spread of various jobs to do from fixing the computerised oyster grader machine at the local marine farm, through to the health practices server, to your standard home PC,” he says.
Meanwhile, the relative isolation of Coromandel township is not a hindrance, adds Everth, as he can receive supplies from Auckland by courier in a day or so.
Being based at home, just a short drive from the township centre, rather than in the main street is not a handicap, Everth explains.
“A shop in town would make it harder to fit in with family life. There would be the hassle of safeguarding the office. A shop in town would have issues of cost. People know where I am.”