Rob Mestric says he owes the guitar a lot, and that this beautiful instrument has brought many good things into his life! It’s certainly brought business success, as Rob’s music store, Port Mac Guitars, has been trading for 12 years … And it’s also been nominated to receive a major award, which will involve him travelling to Nashville this month.
Hi Rob. Opening the doors to a new business is always a risk. Fill us in on some of the history behind your business, Port Mac Guitars. When was it established … and what led you to take this initial business gamble?
We originally purchased the store, which was known at the time as Popfront Music, from Simon Leigh, another local businessman. We had another couple as business partners and promptly changed the name to Guitar Factory Port Macquarie. Both myself and our business partners worked for the Guitar Factory in Parramatta, so the decision was a simple one when the name was offered to us to use.
The business grew steadily over the next several years, and eventually in 2011 we bought our partners out and continued to run the store ourselves. In January 2015 we rebranded to Port Mac Guitars, to differentiate ourselves from the other Guitar Factory stores in Sydney, as our business had become very different from theirs and also very widely recognised itself across Australia.
How has your business evolved over time since its conception?
The biggest change we have experienced was when we decided to start trading online and reached a much wider national market that wasn’t available to us previously. We consciously changed our business model to focus fully on our customers’ needs and especially on how to make online shopping appeal to customers who lived nowhere near our store.
One of our key policies that has made a huge impact on our business has been our online lay-by system. No one had offered it in our industry prior to us, and we are still the leaders in this area. We also offer free insured shipping and a 14 day free return freight policy, which really gives our customers peace of mind when shopping with us. We also offer online trade-ins, which makes getting rid of your unwanted gear super easy and without the hassle of listing it on eBay or Gumtree.
What does your business specialise in?
We currently specialise in the sale of guitars of all sorts and associated equipment like amplifiers and effects pedals. We will also begin to offer drums, PA systems, keyboards and piano, and brass and woodwind instruments again shortly in-store and online. We are looking forward to applying all the things we have learned from our online guitar business and bringing that experience to a whole new set of customers.
When/how did you personally become interested in music – and especially guitars?
I had always been involved in music from a very young age, but it wasn’t until I was about 13 that I became obsessed with guitars. Once I started, I was hooked, and the guitar has pretty much brought me everything good in my life since. I owe the instrument a lot.
You’ll be travelling to Nashville in June, as Port Mac Guitars has been named a Top 100 Dealer by the National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM). What can you tell us about these awards – and why is it such an honour to receive one?
The NAMM organisation is the biggest and most important body associated with our industry, and the Top 100 Dealers Awards are the highest accolade for Musical Instrument Retailers. We are in the running for two of seven awards and also the Dealer of the Year award. To be included in this list is truly an honour.
Where/when exactly, will the award ceremony take place?
The ceremony takes place in Nashville on the 24th June. Myself and our Sales Co-ordinator, Mark Wilson, will be attending the Awards Gala Dinner and Ceremony.
What are your plans while you’re in Nashville … What do you hope to experience?
Attending the Awards Ceremony is our main reason for going to Nashville, but we will also go to the NAMM Show itself for a few days while we are there. We usually attend the NAMM Show in January each year in Anaheim, Los Angeles, but this will be our first time at the Nashville show. NAMM Shows are about as exciting as it gets for someone in our industry. Not only do you get to see all the latest releases from the major brands, but the place is also teeming with rockstars and top musicians at every turn. It’s mind blowing.
You’re well known locally – and further afield – for your skill playing the guitar, and also for your vocals. What’s been keeping you busy lately – any gigs in the pipeline, or other big plans?
I spend most of my time on bass these days playing funk, soul and R & B with our band The Quantum Souls. We play locally once or twice a month, which is enough for me, as the shop keeps me very busy. Not to mention that we are also open seven days a week, so getting home at 4am on a Sunday morning doesn’t hold the same appeal as it used to!
Final words …
It’s been a great 12 years since we first started our business here in Port Macquarie, and I feel very blessed to have been able to achieve what we have and still live in the most beautiful part of the world.
Interview by Jo Atkins.