With impressive careers in both the Police and marketing, Louise and Iain Chapman mean business – and just as well since they’re the new owners of a local Tauranga company – CS Signs (previously Computastyle Signs).
Louise and Iain are an ambitious, hardworking husband-and-wife team who recently moved to Tauranga looking for new adventures.
Get to know more about Tauranga’s latest local superstars and their exciting plan for CS Signs in our latest Member Profile.
Tell us a bit about your background – your career to date, your experience… basically, how what you have done has got you to where you are today.
Iain and I are a husband-and-wife team. We bought Computastyle Signs in July of this year, moving to Tauranga from Wellington with our family.
Iain has spent the last 20 years in the Police doing everything from locking up people for peeing in public to leading multi-national financial crime investigations. So, this move is a big step up for him.
As for me, I have spent the last 20 years juggling motherhood with a career in advertising and marketing. My specialties are in customer and creative strategy, but my passion lies in design-led thinking.
This sounds like a load of marketing faff, but it’s all about putting the customer at the heart of things including, what businesses are saying, how they’re saying it, what they’re doing and how.
When did you buy this business? How long have you been operating?
Computastyle Signs has been operating for over 40 years (hence the name – it was the first sign shop in the Bay to use Computers to make signs).
So, it’s been around as long as us. We bought the business because it had the perfect mix of ingredients for Iain and me as people leadership, relationship building and getting stuff done are Iain’s superpowers while problem-solving and design are mine.
Tell us about your business: What services do you offer? How can you help our business community?
Computastyle Signs is known for its high-quality service and for getting stuff done. As the name says, we use computers, and we make signs. However, that covers a lot of terrains.
We can do anything from a logo, and branding design right through to being able to manufacture and produce all sorts of signage including, vehicle wraps, wayfinding signage, LED signs, stickers, building signage and glass frosting. Essentially, anything you need done; we can make it happen!
We work with several charities assisting them with their designs. We are always happy to help where we can. We also regularly donate to animal charities as we are both huge animal lovers.
What makes your business unique?
Iain and me!
But, seriously, just the fact that we are (mostly) human. We want to do right by our clients and have a can-do attitude and a sense of commitment to them. We’ll make it happen, and we’ll make it right.
We’re straight up, we don’t make promises we can’t keep, and we don’t ever intentionally let anyone down. The reputation of ourselves, our staff and our business are hugely important to us. After all, the only reason we are here is because of our customers, so they always come first. We also have a no dick-heads policy. And we love dogs.
When you first bought the business, what is the one thing you wish people told you?
Don’t buy a puppy at the same time as buying a business and moving the family.
In the first few months of business, what challenges have you faced and how did you overcome them?
COVID, COVID, COVID! Some would say it’s not an ideal time to buy a business, but we believe that life doesn’t stop for COVID. In saying that, we didn’t expect another Level 4. It’s been a bit of a hiccup for us, but the most important thing is keeping our staff engaged and safe in their jobs which we have managed to do and will strive to continue to regardless of what gets thrown at us!
And now, looking back, what have been your biggest learnings?
To always have a plan B, make time to breathe and look at the business from outside of the weeds. Also, to eventually work on the business and not in the business. That is very difficult when you first start, but you need to work towards a plan to get yourself(ves) there.
What’s the one misconception people might have about your industry?
The sheer amount of attention to detail and skill that goes into the sign-making process. It’s not just print something out and whacking it on a backing board. There is a lot of care and effort taken into getting things just right across so many different facets, from the physical building of frames to cutting out tiny bits of vinyl for application onto a sign to the installation of metres and metres of LEDs into 3D letters.
Our signwriters really are very talented, thanks, guys! In saying that, the other misconception is how quickly we can turn things around. I think people are used to long lead times with anything these days (especially furniture, thanks COVID) but in signage, it’s go go go! It’s very rare that we would have a job that would take any longer than two weeks from start to finish. Depending on the size of course. But generally, things get turned around very quickly and it’s very dynamic.
What’s the one thing you want people to know about your business?
It sounds so clichéd, but we do care. We want to get stuff right for you, and we do care about the end result. We’re human too, and we like to be taken care of when we use a service. I’m a bit OCD (ok… a lot) so, everything must be ‘just right’, but of course, you can’t slow the process down so, it’s about being able to do that and achieve a superior result without it taking ten times as long. But ultimately, we want to deliver an amazing service for our clients. We actually quite like people, and we’d like to see everyone we work with again. And generally, we do.
What are your goals (personal and professional) for the next six to 12 months?
To have a happy team, happy clients and happy family. AND… to see the backside of COVID.
When you’re not at work, how do you like to spend your time?
Iain likes to spend his time flying upside down in aeroplanes while I spend most of my time avoiding that. I’d rather have my feet firmly on terra firma doing yoga or treading the beautiful shores of our region.
We are also sun-seekers so, summer weekends will be spent with the extended family (kids and pets) on the boat, at the lakes, or with friends in the Coromandel.
If you could impart one piece of advice to fellow business owners, what would it be?
Be careful of where you spend your efforts and your money. Nothing is better spent than keeping customers happy. Word of mouth is more powerful than any large budget advertising campaign ever will be and is far more rewarding.
Also, again, don’t buy a dog at the same time as a business!
Anything else you’d like to add?
Thanks for the opportunity to be able to rabbit on about us and our business. We are genuinely excited to be the new owners of Computastyle Signs, and we both thrive on challenges and meeting new people so, please, don’t be a stranger, pop in for a chat and a whisky (Iain’s speciality, any time of the day) or a green tea (my specialty, any time of the day).
New members can find it hard meeting people at events, so we want to take some of the pressure off that awkward small talk by shining a light on your business through our member profiles.
Our member profiles are a great way to give the business community a taste of who you are and what you do, so when they see your face at one of our events they won’t hesitate to make that all-important introduction.