One person’s castoffs are this company’s treasure.
It’s easy to envision what happens to old computers once newer, cutting-edge machines take their place: They’re sent off to the electronics junkyard, to nestle among older PCs and Atari game systems, right? Well, not always. Sometimes they come to live at C-Tech, a dealer of high-end technology equipment that’s been refurbished, even if it’s been deemed obsolete. Mike Meshbesher, C-Tech’s CEO, explains how his company started, and why it’s growing fast.
How did C-Tech get started?
We incorporated in 1998, with three employees and my dog, Scooter. We used $100,000 in capital that I’d saved, and we started buying large packages of product.
It was a very frugal beginning, but he had a foothold, since we were supplying GE Capital. We leveraged that customer, saw profits from our transactions, and just grew the company that way.
What part did Scooter play in the company?
When I started, it was the time when all these dot-com companies were up and running with a bunch of money from venture capitalists, and it was very difficult to find employees.
I wanted to be creative, so I thought if I allowed employees to bring dogs to work, like I did, it would create a different atmosphere, one that people would want to be part of. It’s still a policy. We actually have a large kennel in the back of the warehouse.
What’s in the warehouse?
We house thousands of machines, like servers from IBM, Dell, and Compaq. We also have the parts for those machines, like memory modules, processor modules, controller cards, tape libraries, storage racks. We carry desktop units, workstations, and monitors, too.
With computers changing so rapidly, is there ever a problem with warehoused parts becoming obsolete?
It’s a strange business to be in, when you’re putting older equipment in inventory.
But you never know when a product will be hot again. We have some products that are five or six years old and suddenly we’ll sell out. For example, if we have the parts for a specific Compaq server, and no one else does, when someone needs to repair it, we’re going to get the orders. But it’s very difficult to know when something is going to become obsolete.
Has the downturn in the economy, and the subsequent tightening of IT spending, meant that you’re getting more orders?
Yes, it does. We’re in a really good spot right now. Because we mainly deal in products that are one to two generations in age, we’re finding that a lot of our customers are coming to us because they want to upgrade their machines instead of buy new equipment.
I can’t say we’re recession-proof, but if you look at our rate of growth, you can see that we haven’t been affected.
What is your rate of growth?
Over the last three years, we’ve grown 2,000 percent. So, we’ve had some growing pains, trying to build an infrastructure to accommodate that growth.
But as any business owner will tell you, that’s a great problem. That’s a problem you want to have.
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