Spare Parts Are This Startup's Mainstay

Computer dealers have lots to complain about these days: Business is slow, competition is intense, and some products are scarce. But one of the oldest hassles in the business--trying to maintain spare-parts inventory for different computers and printers--could soon become less of a problem.

A startup, PC Parts Express in Carrollton, Tex., figures it can help dealers save money by stocking spare parts for major computer brands at its own warehouse. When needed, parts can be sent overnight to dealers or to businesses that do their own repairs. The company's co-founder, Mark Hilz, says he has raised "millions of dollars" from the CompuCom Systems Inc. dealer chain and a venture-capital firm, Safeguard Scientifics. So far, however, only AST Research Inc., has agreed to work with PC Parts Express. But Hilz says he expects most major PC makers to sign up within the year.