THERE are holes in the walls and the workshop floor is scarred from the recent installation of a shipping container inside Wiremu Paipa's Big Noise Group building in Hastings.
It houses servers for more than 3000 websites and he now has room for plenty more.
``The container is pretty heavy but the cooling capacity in it is just so much better,'' he said.
``About four years ago, I had the chance to look through one of Google's data centres. I thought it was pretty cool and I've kept watch on what they're doing. They call them server pods.''
The container houses three air conditioning units.
``They are all a bit grunty so if one fails the other two can cope.''
While Big Noise is primarily a web hosting and design company, it started out very differently.
``From the age of 13-14, I was working on milk runs, paper runs and orchards.
``I didn't really like school - I was more hands on - wood work, metal work and any sport I was fine with, but when it came to school that wasn't me.
Paipa represented Hawke's Bay in cricket and soccer and became a chess champion but his parents withdrew him from Hastings Boys' High School when they discovered he was working in an orchard instead of a classroom.
``I ended up working for Fletcher Challenge in Omahu Rd, where they made aluminium windows. After being there for four months, I did window tinting for them but the company got sold and I was made redundant.''
He was gifted a roll of tinting film.
``Inside the roll was the phone number of the Auckland supplier, so I went back to my parent's place and started tinting car windows from home.
``After about 18 months, my father built a double garage in Flaxmere for me to carry on what I was doing.
``My sister was still at school but she started doing my books for me and so did my mother.''
Because of numerous requests, he expanded his services to audio, but wasn't sure about installing car alarms.
``I went over to Eric in Napier - when it was Remac Alarms - and asked how I could get into it and what would I need to do.
``So I did alarms and I got into speakers and car accessories.
``I was probably at home for about four years but the problem was we were getting too many cars in the neighbourhood, so we decided I would move to Soneycroft St in Hastings.
``We lasted all of a year before we outgrew the building and we moved again to Heretaunga St.''
With the business growing, he was forced to move again, buying his current three-level Hastings building in 2000.
He then moved out of his Havelock North home and into the new building's top-level flat.
The purchase was good timing. Car culture exploded thanks to films like The Fast and the Furious.
With the company employing 14 people, he bought into a mag wheel franchise.
``There were 16 mag wheel stores in the country and as a group we were turning over $20 million on in mags and tyres.
``Here we did up-speccing, mags, lowering suspension - that kind of stuff.''
Cars that Big Noise had accessorised started winning show competitions. Jonah Lomu became a customer and Big Noise featured at the country's car ``sound-offs''. Team Big Noise broke the record for the loudest car audio eight times over five years.
When the government restricted car imports, Paipa decided to downsize - five people were laid off. `We let people go but made sure they could get other jobs.''
A stinging bill for a website instigated his move into computers. ``We had a website built and it cost us $50,000-$60,000 and then you had maintenance. It was costing us $120 to get a page update, but that was the pricing in the day. So I thought, I'm going to learn this. So I learned it and a guy who did web design started working for us.''
Big Noise website design grew through word of mouth and thanks to some IT friends, Paipa started hosting.
``I had friends, who are still in the industry, who I played computer games with here _ games like Counter-Strike and Unreal.''
A childhood friendship was also a handy business contact - Sam Deller of NOW whose company was then called Airnet - let him use Airnet's infrastructure at Whakatu.
``When we moved in, we had about 600 websites and were their biggest client to host in their centre.
``After about six months we realised that Airnet's resources were pretty thin and couldn' t deliver what we needed.''
Persistent power outages were expensive because battery backup power supplies were unreliable and if he visited the hosting centre on a weekend, ``I had to wait for their guy to let me in and I had to pay him $150-$200 an hour just to visit my own rack.
``I was just about to sell what I had built to a company in Auckland, because I had had enough of being told what we were going to get and not getting it. But then I met Don Price, who had a similar business in Napier.
``He came out and checked me out and his IT guys said, `His equipment and infrastructure is better than ours, so why don't we move everything we've got and make it work with him?''
DataHive was born. Big Noise and Wasp NZ mirror each other's servers, protecting their clients businesses.
``If this building ever burned down or ceased to work we could still operate in Napier.
``The reason the container is for growth. It's cheaper on our power bill and if the building ever fell down the beams won't damage it. It's also mobile - we could just unplug the power, put it on the back of a truck and and take it down to Unison where we could plug it into their core network. That's the beauty of having a local supply of fibre.''
The internet side of Big Noise is about 70 per cent of Big Noise turnover, but he has plans to grow.
``We wanted to make sure our systems were working before we went and mouthed off. There are too many companies around saying they've got this and that.
Some companies take two weeks what we can do in an hour.''
Paipa has no plans to cash out of his business.
``We had an offer of $5 million to buy me out last year - I'm not making that kind of money on it but it was the contacts and the systems they were after. For them to implement what we've got now you'd need a team of 20 and it would take them probably a year-and-a-half to two years.
``When I was younger I wanted to be huge, but now I want to be able to just cruise along and enjoy my lifestyle.''
Paipa said he had investors showing interest but he is wary of companies with governing boards.
``It can take too long to implement things and they don't always get done the way you'd like them to. Big companies like Vodafone and Telecom lose sight of what they've done and they lose clients because of it.''
He's not interested in the telecommunications field that NOW has expanding into - taking on Telecom.
``We are focusing more on the computer side, but to get where NOW is there was a lot of grunge work _ a lot of the younger staff don't realise the effort that went in there. Sam [Deller] has done a lot of hard yards _ 20 hour days for three or four years. I'm not going through that.
``I'm more of a data centre _ a solutions provider.''
Paipa said he owed his success to his family.
``I'm quite lucky because I've had my mother here for 20 years and my sister since I started.
``My sister does the accounts and my mother is my operations manager, so if I go away and the boys don't do their job she can come in and tell them they need to get it done.
``Without them I probably wouldn't have survived, because staff are staff and if they can take an easy way out they will.
``My sister Sharon is the number cruncher, she's the one who makes it work and if we didn't have her we would probably go broke. She's pretty straight about debts - she says, you owe us so when are you going to pay us.''
Four years ago, another strand to the business was added - sound systems for touring bands.
``We've got a guy here who DJs for a lot of the bars around here so we decided to get into it.
``The concert work stuff s my hobby - my passion - but I get paid for doing it.
``We spent about $400,000 on it, so it's a lot of money invested.
``We have pretty much all the promoters on our books - we get up to 15 gigs on a tour, sometimes to the South Island.
``We can do an outdoor concert of 5000 people with what's in the truck.
``I enjoy it, but some years it pays the bills and some years it doesn't.''
The computer side of the company is about 70 per cent of Big Noise turnover.
``We are doing as well as we were doing in the mag days but we should be doing better because of the infrastructure we've put in.
``The money has never been the thing for me - it's always been the lifestyle. ``I go on holiday and sit on the beach and think, `I'm bored'.''
The 41-year-old said friends who had cashed out of their businesses ``have gone mental''.
``They've lost the plot. They've lost who they are and there's no purpose for them. ``I'm lucky I can work at what I like and hang out with good people. Money rules too many people.
``I just like what I'm doing - I have no plans to leave Hawke's Bay.''