Knock­ing down walls

Port Douglas & Mossman Gazette - - FRONT PAGE - Shane Ni­chols

MOSS­MAN Com­puter and Print­ing has ex­panded their space by adding the shop next door. Knock­ing a hole in the wall to cre­ate a new area for busi­ness clients and workshop is typ­i­cal of the con­tin­u­ing growth phase that own­ers Justin and Michelle Van Dyk have been en­joy­ing th­ese past few years.

It seems they can’t help but pick win­ners when it comes to new ideas for their busi­ness.

They see op­por­tu­ni­ties that fit with their busi­ness, snap them up and now, says Justin, ‘‘we sort of cover ev­ery­thing’’.

The for­mer Ade­laide cou­ple moved up to FNQ about 10 years ago. Justin had been a store man­ager for a ma­jor re­tail chain and badly wanted a change by the time the de­ci­sion was made to move up north.

With some train­ing un­der his belt he was ready to set up a mo­bile com­puter ser­vic­ing busi­ness. It met suc­cess quickly, though at first the lo­cal mar­ket was a bit diffident about how and when to use this new ser­vice. ‘‘They seemed to think it might be ex­pen­sive,’’ says Justin, ‘‘so we’d go around there, sit down and have a cof­fee and a talk, and then they’d see it would be OK.’’

Hot de­mand for com­puter re­pairs saw the cou­ple take a small space - just a desk re­ally - out the back of their cur­rent premises on Moss­man’s main street a cou­ple of years ago. ‘‘It was just a pick up and drop off point for the com­puter re­pairs,’’ says Justin. ‘‘But within a month we had so much busi­ness that we needed more space and the other ten­ant de­cided we were do­ing the most busi­ness and it was more suit­able for her to work from home, so we ended up with the whole shop.’’

They they swooped on a pho­to­copier that was up for sale. It proved an in­stant win­ner.

Then the Ko­dak shop closed down. Justin got two of the photo print­ing ma­chines - in bad shape - and made them into one good one. He dis­cov­ered strong de­mand for this ser­vice and it’s a side that keeps grow­ing. So they added pass­port pho­tos and that’s boomed.

Full of ideas, the Van Dyks came up with their own Santa Claus at Christ­mas - ‘‘Moss­man hasn’t got one’’ - for kids and oth­ers to have their photo taken with. The cus­tomer ends up with a Christ­mans bauble with their photo with Santa. ‘‘It’s not just kids,’’ says Justin. ‘‘Some of them even sit their dogs on Santa’s lap. We’ll do it again this year!’’

Then some­one else de­parted the in­dus­try and so the Van Dyks picked up a dye sub­li­ma­tion unit - it prints im­ages onto prac­ti­cally any­thing, such as stub­bie hold­ers, mugs and so on.

They also bought a vinyl cut­ter which means they can do sig­nage, and they do have some large clients for that side of the busi­ness, do­ing such things as sig­nage on tour buses. (That bit’s com­ing along so well that Michelle is go­ing to have graphic de­sign train­ing). Lately they’ve taken on mo­bile phone screen re­pairs.

Mean­while the com­puter re­pairs side has grown to the point where they were trip­ping over each other - there are four sub-con­tract work­ers too - and they needed more space.

In their new space next door the Van Dyks have set up what is ba­si­cally a busi­ness hub. Many clients like to use the in-shop com­put­ers to do their books and so on, happy in the knowl­edge that if they have a prob­lem help is right at hand - they just have to sing out. ‘‘They’ve dis­cov­ered that all the lit­tle busi­ness ser­vices, we can do all that for them,’’ says Michelle. ‘‘Bang, bang, all done.’’

So it hasn’t all been planned but the en­ter­pris­ing pair have seen the op­por­tu­ni­ties and grabbed them. ‘‘Ev­ery­thing’s just moved on pro­gres­sively,’’ says Justin. ‘‘ We built it around what peo­ple have been want­ing. All th­ese op­por­tu­ni­ties just keep spring­ing up and we take them.

‘‘You can’t just do one thing in a small town; you can’t be stuck on one idea. You have to adapt and be flex­i­ble.’’

In their spare time Michelle works with Fire and Res­cue Ru­ral Qld (fire­fighter, ca­sual trainer, crew leader and vol­un­teer com­mu­nity ed­u­ca­tor; she was awarded an Aus­tralia Day Medal in 2011).


Moss­man Com­puter and Print­ing’s ex­panded premises and (inset) Michelle and Justin Van Dyk

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