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Acer America
Acer America Corp. is a computer manufacturer of business and consumer PCs, notebooks, ultrabooks, projectors, servers, and storage products.


333 West San Carlos Street
San Jose, California 95110
United States


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News & Articles

November 23, 2010 |

Custom Builders Win Big When Vying for Verticals

Gaming, medical, and education are top contenders for custom PCs. By Alison Diana

Custom Builders Win Big When Vying for Verticals

Gaming, medical, and education are top contenders for custom PCs.

By Alison Diana

Despite top-tier hardware vendors’ high-stakes marketing efforts, system builders continue to successfully carve out niches in vertical markets such as gaming, healthcare, and education for clients that want cutting-edge technology and personal relationships from their PC providers.

Since clients buy systems designed to meet their specific needs—in performance, clock speed, graphics, RAM, memory, design, and more—they get exactly, and only, what they need. Combining technology expertise with industry know-how, custom builders can provide clients with a single point of contact for all technical questions and problems.

“We succeed in bringing the latest technology to market at a faster pace than multinational OEMs, as we are able to qualify, test, and support our products here in the United States, greatly reducing the logistics required to bring these technologies to market,” says Wallace Santos, CEO and founder of Maingear Inc., an eight-year-old system builder in Kenilworth, N.J. “And in the case of gamers looking for the latest hardware to power the ever-increasing level of detail found in games, to content creation professionals looking to improve the efficiency of their workflow, we can personally tailor designs to individual needs.”

Cryo Performance Computing of Bucks, England, is another integrator specializing in building high-end systems for gamers who want high-performance, graphics-intensive machines. The two-year-old company also targets video, audio, and multimedia professionals, as well as general businesspeople and home theater aficionados. “Main-brand vendors want to lock in customers; we do exactly the opposite. We want you to invest long term, upgrade rather than replace, and upsize rather than refresh,” says Alan Johnson, chief technologist at Cryo PC.

DTx Inc., an original design manufacturer (ODM) and system builder in Melbourne, Fla., has targeted the regulatory-intensive healthcare industry since 1991 and is now expanding into equally stringent markets such as Homeland Security and food inspection, according to Gene Garofalo, co-founder and vice president of business development. With client MTS Medication Technologies, for example, DTx helped design, then built and delivered, MTS MedLocker, a computerized, automated medication dispensing system for pharmacy inventory control.††

“Our end-to-end solution enables our clients to focus on their core competencies,” says Garofalo. “The computer end is very critical, but it is not a core piece of their competency. We take that burden off them. The ODM market has a lot of potential for growth. Companies are looking to downsize more and more. We can help them with the design. DTx has an advantage because of our very special niche.”

System builders also are successfully wooing the education market, both K–12 and higher education. Red Barn Computers, for example, sells into several verticals, including higher-educational institutions involved in research. Jon Layish, president of the Binghamton, N.Y.-based company, says it’s difficult for large manufacturers to compete in the educational research market because they’re too inflexible. Researchers may take up to two months to settle on a configuration, and “that’s just not possible for the big guys. Their model is mass production,” says Layish.

Developing and retaining this combination of technical and vertical-market expertise is critical. System builders then must add high-quality pre- and post-sales customer support to further separate themselves from their name-brand competitors. At Maingear, sales representatives are not on commission, and all systems are hand-assembled and run through a 48- to 72-hour stress test to ensure quality.

Cryo PC also stands by its new PCs with an upgrade assurance policy. “We will buy back components should a new upgrade appear on the market,” says Johnson. “This provides some comfort to our customers that they will not instantly lose significant value in their investment.”

But the custom hardware itself is not the end game—it’s the personal, trusted adviser relationship between builder and client from pre-sales conversations through post-sales support. As Johnson puts it, “We consider custom PC fulfillment more a service than a product.”

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