THE HISTORY OF POWERMAX

When you engage in a transaction with any company, you are essentially voting with your dollars, saying: “I am glad you’re in business and I want it to stay that way.” Accordingly, we think it’s appropriate for our customers (or anyone for that matter) to understand who we are, why we’re here and how we got here. The only way you can really understand that is to know our history, because you really don’t know who someone is or where they’re going unless you have some idea as to where they’ve been.

And so, with that introduction, here follows the history of PowerMax.

Back in 1993, two entrepreneurial salesmen, Kevin Anderson and Steve “Barney” Barnes, worked for a company called “MacFriends.” MacFriends had carved out a niche in the mail order sales of Macintosh at a time when Apple wasn’t particularly fond of that kind of transaction. Apple believed that all sales of their products should be done in person. Of course, this was before the internet became the sales and marketing juggernaut it is today.

Unfortunately, due to mismanagement and ownership infighting, it became obvious to the both of them that MacFriends was headed for bankruptcy. With the encouragement of a third party (since deceased), they formed a company called “The Right Computer,” and stepped away from MacFriends a year or so before it collapsed.

Anderson was never particularly fond of “The Right Computer” name, and so when the Power Macintosh was introduced in 1994, a light bulb went off in his head, and the name was changed to PowerMax.

PowerMax carved out its own niche and a great reputation in the Macintosh mail order business during the subsequent five years, but the pressure from Apple to rein in the burgeoning and uncontrollable “gray market” created a need for PowerMax to be fully blessed and authorized by Apple.

A mutual friend put Anderson and the CEO of a chain of Apple authorized stores based in Oregon and Washington, each called “The Computer Store,” together. The two hit it off, and eventually agreed to a merger of PowerMax and The Computer Stores. Largely because of PowerMax’s sterling reputation, Apple blessed the union even though it still hadn’t fully fleshed out its mail order strategy. Barnes decided at that point to take his leave from the company and his shares were bought out, leaving Anderson as the sole remaining founder of PowerMax and the largest shareholder in the merged company, called Computer Stores Northwest (CSNW).

In 2001, Apple opened its first Apple Store in Tysons Corner, Virginia. When they later targeted University Village in Seattle –which was just minutes from one of The Computer Stores in Seattle– it became clear to the board of CSNW that the current CEO had in no way prepared the stores for that level of competition. So that CEO was fired, and Anderson, who had been running PowerMax for the company, was anointed President and CEO of the entire firm.

Subsequent changes came fast and furious. Stores were upgraded significantly. Some were moved to locations with higher customer traffic, including into malls. Anderson also changed the name of the stores from “The Computer Store” to “The Mac Store.” Back in the ‘70s, when personal computers were still fairly unique and unusual, the name “The Computer Store” made some sense. But in a world with a plethora of PC brands from dozens of companies, Anderson figured that the store names needed to be more specific, and after much deliberation, The Mac Stores were born.

Perhaps most importantly, Anderson set about to change the top-down, company-first culture that was a hallmark of the old CSNW. He put the customer at the top of the organization chart. He opened up financials to all managers. He created a company phrase that turned into an oft-used internal acronym: MOCLU: Make Our Customers Love Us. He allowed people on the floor to make decisions without having to go up a chain of command, simply asking them to consider MOCLU when making any decision. He encouraged feedback on any topic from all employees.

The company grew to ten locations. At one point it was the largest Apple Specialist in the country. At the same time, a much larger company, Game Stop, decided it wanted to grow beyond its current business model and open up a couple of hundred Apple-based stores around the country. They began that process by purchasing Simply Mac, a retailer based out of Salt Lake City, and then gobbled up the other top three Apple Specialists in the country, including The Mac Stores.

But they didn’t want PowerMax because it didn’t fit their business model. Anderson was absolutely delighted at this because he really had no desire to work for a large corporation anyway. So after long and difficult negotiations, the stores were sold, PowerMax stayed as a division of CSNW, and Anderson remained at the helm of the company.

The agreement allowed for a PowerMax retail store to be opened close to headquarters, and so work on the first PowerMax retail outlet was begun in the summer of 2015, completed in October of 2015.

In 2016, Kevin Anderson decided to move on from PowerMax into retirement. The company was then purchased by 2 forward thinking investors aiming to move PowerMax into the future. PowerMax became an Apple Premier Partner a title few hold in the industry. In February of 2017, Joshua Benton became CEO of PowerMax coming from years of experience with Ecommerce and project management. Since becoming CEO Joshua has brought new life into the company with the help of the investors and PowerMax team.

“We at PowerMax are striving towards the future and want to continue to exceed our customer’s expectations.”