I first came across Minotaur I was going though through www.resellerratings.com sites top 100 sites. Minotaur is in the 4th place category with 160 respondents it holds a remarkable 6.7 out of 7 rating.
At first glance it’s a rather plain Jane site – not a whole lot to look at in terms of graphic flash and eye candy, but then we don’t buy a retailers graphs now do we? In fact, until you start clicking on the various categories, you would think this was a start-up site low on product inventory. You couldn’t be more wrong!
For example Minotaur carries 35 CD-ROM drives to chose from. Monitors? They carry a wide variety from Eleven different manufactures, all shapes and sizes. Hard drives? How about over of dozen manufactures providing DVD, CD, Zip, SCSI and IDE hard drives.
Here’s my favorite, rather than let an older product continue to linger in it’s normal categories, Minotaur places it in a “Real Deals” section under Product Close Outs, where the prices are just short of ridiculously cheap!
In the course of acquiring a VapoChill (Minotaur is the only US outlet for this cooling system) I’ve exchanged dozens of E-Mail with Jon. I’ve found him to be extremely knowledgeable about the products he sells. But something far more rare as well. Jon actively seeks advice (even from me!) on his product line. If you want something not in stock – anything at all – Jon will order it for you.
Minotaur sees it’s mission primarily as a “System Builder”; I’ll soon be experiencing first hand the fruits of their labors. But this is a site review so there should be an interview! There is. Jon’s about as up front and straight forward as they come so I just asked him to tell us about Minotaur; here’s his response:
“I began using computers in 1981 when a friend of my older brother, who lived nearby, had a computer (Atari 800). We would go over to his place all the time to play with his computer. Finally one day my parents gave in to our pleading and they finally bought us a computer.
That first computer was an Atari 800XL. I moved on to x86 PCs in 1989. During those times I would constantly upgrade the computer every few months — with the help of a paper route. 🙂 So, the last 19 years has given me a wealth of experience and knowledge of how computers work.
In 1996, after I had graduated from college, I had not been happy with the sources of computer hardware and equipment, especially from the Internet, while in school. At that time a lot of companies were still hooked to phones and they didn’t appear to think the Net was a big thing. It was difficult getting a timely response from most companies — they would reply to emails after a day or two.
One day I got tired of trying to deal with the companies that were not attentive to their Internet customers or their emails, so I decided to set up my own company on the side while I worked for another company as a UNIX systems administrator. Initially, the purpose of the Minotaur was so that I could buy products for my own personal use. Obviously, that didn’t last too long. A number of friends decided that they wanted to buy their computer parts from me.
They liked my prices and knew that I would respond to their questions and concerns quickly, usually within minutes or an hour. The company has grown mainly by word of mouth advertising — most of my friends have gotten their family, friends, and co-workers – even their companies – to buy from Minotaur, which has helped grow the company over the last four years.
I rarely pay for advertisements for Minotaur; in fact, we just started doing a small advertising run earlier this year.
Since I’ve used computers for a long time, I usually try to share my computer knowledge with our customers as much as possible, including consulting with a client on which parts they really need. When an order comes through that apparently is missing parts or has incompatible parts, then I try to inform the customer about the potential conflicts. Most of the time they are happy that we had noticed the error, saving their time and ours as well! 🙂
What makes Minotaur special? We focus on speedy and timely responses to emails, inquiries, and quotes. In addition we provide superior service. We focus on a high level of quality for all our orders and built systems.
I believe that a speedy response to email is very important (as after all, who likes waiting hours for a response?). We try hard to give detailed and informative answer to customers’ questions. We are not be afraid to tell a customer if a part (or a manufacturer) is bad, but if the customer insists, then Minotaur usually will accommodate their request.
Usually at the top on my list of things to do in a day are customers with issues/problems. After that, is to make sure all orders for the day have been filled and systems are built before we spend time to do quotes.
Obviously, since we have a website, pricing is available online. So the priority for giving quotes is somewhat low. We definitely ignore doing a request for a quote if we happen to see too many other vendor’s names in the to: or cc: field of the email. In fact, recently we got a quote request that was sent to over 500 vendors. That email was ignored.:)
I personally believe that building a relationship with a client is very important. We will make recommendations and suggestions. Our objective is to try to have all of our customers happy with the equipment that they had purchased. We know that a happy customer will return and buy from us again.
We cater to and give advice for our customers. For instance we recently had a customer who was considering buying 8-way Xeon system with 2MB cache and over 16GB of RAM. This system was going to cost about $70,000 and we started questioning the customer as to whether this was “REALLY” what they wanted, and what exactly they needed this system for.
It turns out, they wanted to do a lot of rendering and thought a 8-way system would be the best option. Instead, we recommended buying multiple systems and hooking them up as a render farm. This was a cheaper and faster system. They went this route instead, and saved a bundle.
So this is one example of how we try to save our customers money by making sure they get the best equipment for their needs.
Minotaur has not been as active in the overclocking market as I would have liked for us to be. The problem we face is that we typically prefer to carry retail components from authorized distributors of the manufacturer whenever possible. Why? We do this to ensure that all parts we carry are genuine as we don’t ever want to sell counterfeit products. Such as remarked CPUs, copied software, and so forth.
In the last 6 to 12 months, the majority of the CPUs that have been excellent overclockers have typically been OEM processors, while most of the retails we have gotten our hands on have not overclocked well. For instance the last batch of two shipments of retail Celeron 566’s, we tested some of them and found none would run at 100MHz bus, even with a Globalwin FOP32 fan, unless it was at 2.0V, which we felt was too high. We didn’t sell those.
On the other hand, we are still in the overclocking market, although in a slightly different field. Rather than fiddling with heatsinks/fans, peltiers, etc — we have been carrying the ASEtek VapoChill since early this year. We believe this product has a lot of potential — we are the only reseller for this unit in the United States. To make a long story short — it is very similar to the Kryotech Cooling systems, but rather than at -40C, the VapoChill runs at -15C to -20C.
One benefit of the VapoChill is that you can build your own system. VapoChill is fully upgradable as ASETek continues to make CPU kits available for different processors as they arrive. You can purchase a VapoChill without having to worry too much about costly upgrades in the future.
Another benefit of the VapoChill; most of our clients have remarked that they finally can hear the noise coming from their hard drives rather than hearing the fans.
One common question we get is why we don’t answer our phones. We deal mainly with Emails or via our live chat feature on our website. The reason is because we can’t hear the phones ring at Minotaur.
We are deaf.
We do not have anyone on staff full time to answer phones, so please pardon us if we don’t answer the phone, (the answering machine will tell you to email us for faster response).
If you want to talk to us real-time, you can get on our site and click on the ‘Chat with us live!’ for a real time conversation.”
Thanks again to Jon at Minotaur for responding to our questions.