Company specializes in do-it-yourself upgrades.
There’s no lack of outlets for computer equipment, but times have changed for the computer industry and one Los Angeles business has reached its 10-year anniversary by changing with them. We spoke with Jackson Lan, owner of PC Club, about how his company has found niches to be successful in.
How did you decide to start PC Club?
I worked for Hewlett-Packard as sales and marketing manager in Taiwan and Singapore for six years before I came to the United States. I have established extensive relationships with different computer manufacturers and electronic firms.
I saw an opportunity when I first came to the United States: Ten years ago, many customers started to learn more about computer technology. They were willing to open their PCs to upgrade their slow system with the latest processors or motherboards, or by adding networking or hooking them up to different printers. This gave me a great opportunity to start PC Club, which specializes in do-it-yourself computer upgrades. I opened our first small store in City of Industry, Calif., back in 1992, with five employees. Currently, we have more than 300 employees at 30 stores in Arizona, California, Washington, Oregon, and Oklahoma.
How has the slowdown in the economy affected your business, and what adjustments have you made?
The slowdown of the market has actually affected us in a positive way. Even after Sep. 11, we keep having high sales. We believe this is because people care more now about the value that they can get from their money. In order to get this market opportunity, in the coming few months we will open eight new stores.
What’s different about you as opposed to other businesses that sell PCs and systems?
We specialize in computer hardware, any computer hardware. Even if we do not carry it in our stores, we can special-order it for our customers. We have a fast turnaround time: If someone orders a system from us today at our Los Angeles and Orange County store, we can get it to them as fast as tomorrow. For out-of-state, it may take longer, but we still get the system to customers within five days.
We can customize a computer system to fit customers’ budget and performance needs. From cases to cables to motherboards, they can choose whatever they want and we can put them together.
Our Do-it-Yourself kit helps our customers to save money when they upgrade their computer. For budget-oriented customers or those who would like to do it themselves, we have wide selection of products for them to choose to upgrade their computers.
Our tech area is open to the public. Customers can see what the technicians are doing and they can talk to the technicians directly if they have any computer-related problem or even for suggestions on what to buy.
To fully utilize our strength, we have really committed ourselves to click-and-brick. Customers find it easy to order on-line and pick up at any of our stores.
What have been some of the challenges you faced in starting out and in expanding?
The tighter margin in computer industry has hurt everyone. Just a few years ago, a quality computer system cost $2,000 and now it can be as little as $700. However, the effort in selling the computer is the same. To survive in this tough industry, we believe in effectiveness. To be effective takes innovation. We were actually the first ones to do click-and-brick; we combined our strengths both in the stores and on the Internet to provide customers more convenience and less risk when they order. And we believe this will be the future trend to make us more successful.
What changes or new plans do you have planned, for this year and beyond?
Our vision is to open 400 stores nationwide. We will be opening seven more stores in May and June and many more after that. Our target for this year is to open up to 50 stores.
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