Apr 15, 2008
Alex Harb's 3-year-old computer company is growing again. Ribbit Computers is moving into business computing, opening a store in about three weeks at 921 E. Douglas to serve downtown businesses.
The downtown store, the company's fourth, will offer name-brand and custom-built computer systems, software and repair for consumers and small and medium business. Harb also has added Macintosh desktop and laptop sales and repair.
Much of that business work will be funneled through a year-old Ribbit division, the IT Group.
"We're downtown because we want to serve more businesses downtown," Harb said.
"Wichita is a great, great place to do business. People are very friendly and supportive to local businesses."
The 6,000-square-foot building will have about 2,000 square feet for sales and repair and about 4,000 square feet of warehouse space.
It will employ about 15 people, driving Ribbit's total payroll to about 55, and will house Harb's office.
Everything from point-of-sale management software such as Restaurant Manager to quick-repair turnarounds will be available, Harb said.
"Business people's time is valuable," he said. "They don't have time to wait, so we shoot for a day's turnaround on all repairs."
But custom-built systems –Ribbit's built about 250,000 computers since opening in 2005 -- and the latest in name-brand PC and Mac equipment will be for sale.
Richard Haddock, president of Wichita-based Haddock Corp., said the Mac market remains good.
"We've been here for 30 years, and any competition is good," he said.
Harb is undaunted by the recent national economic downturn, saying he's confident that Ribbit systems will save business clients money.
And a Wichita State marketing professor said his timing may be right.
"I'm not convinced Wichita's in an economic downturn," said WSU professor Cindy Claycomb.
"But, downturns can be a good time to jump ahead. If his strategy and planning are on target… downturns don't mean that people and companies aren't going to start buying. IT makes a business more efficient."
Harb, 27, founded Ribbit in 2004. Sales in 2007 were estimated at $7 million.
Other stores are located at K-96 and Rock Road, Maple and West Street and Lincoln and Woodlawn. Plans are in the works for a fifth store at 21st and Maize Road, Harb said.
The company also operates a build-to-suit computer warehouse at 810 N. Main.