Good from Bad

Here is the roundabout tale of how I came to enter the computer business back in 1986 after having started, then dropped the computer science program intending to become a professional programmer after high school. It gives you a little insight on my journey, but also hopefully awaken you to the types of scams used by computer repair stores that still permeates the business today.


In my senior year of high school I was dual enrolled at Milton High School during the day and Pensacola Junior College at night. Only needing three classes to graduate, I went half a day to school and took two night classes at college getting a start on my computer science degree. After graduation from MHS I was off to basic training and tech-school having already enrolled in the Air Force Reserves my senior year.


After returning to the Milton area I enrolled full time at PJC taking six classes that quickly became a chore with living on my own and trying to work to pay the bills. I was delivering pizza, the only job I could find, and soon found myself helping a new driver that no one else seemed to make time to train or help. Within a short time he had become assistant manager as that position opened up and he had management background and college being a bit older than most of us.


He and I became friends and it soon became apparent that the manager was going to leave as well. We anticipated the possibility of me becoming assistant manager and started training me for the position. When it finally became open, I had to choose between the job and the most money I had made in my young life as a salary or stay in school. I opted to go for the money that was needed and desired and dropped my classes.


Nearly a year later I had become manager after my friend left the area, but found myself at odds with the management style being forced upon me by the owner, so I quit and ultimately ended up going onto active duty in the Air Force. My friend and I stayed in touch during this time and he ended up living back in his home town where his father was a realtor. His father had become an early adopter of technology in his field and had bought a computer system from a local name brand dealer and had nothing but trouble since.


My friend being inquisitive and intelligent tried to work with the dealer on resolving the issues and soon found the dealer to be unresponsive. Not one to be put off or defeated, he began investigating for himself, calling the name brand company headquarters, the manufacturers of the individual parts, and the software companies to resolve the issues for his father. During this time he gained valuable experience on how to trouble shoot the systems, how to disassemble and reassemble them, how to uninstall and install software etc.


After six months of this he became quite knowledgeable in computers and discovered the local dealer had taken name brand parts out of a system and replaced them with what was known as “cheap Taiwan junk” parts then sold the name brand parts for full price. This may sound like a shrewd business tactic, but the person who bought the computer got lesser parts at full price, namely his dad. With their new found knowledge, they opened up their own computer store that quickly put the other fellow out of business.


It was about this time that on active duty I was about to buy a TRS80 from a shack, that my friend educated me on the benefits of a “built” computer. I traveled several states away, built my first computer, and returned opening my own computer business ACS-West shortly after.


I told people up front of my limited knowledge and experience and offered them half off the going rate if I had to learn something new. It was a trade off for both of us as they got half rate and slower results and I got half pay but acquired new skills as I went. Between 86 and 92 I built a small business that taught me many of the skills I have today, and I did so with integrity that many came to appreciate during that time.


There was and still is a great market for reputable businesses that don’t try to be shrewd and ply an advantage at their customers expense. However as one of the CyberStupid! articles describes, there are many things going on in our area that leaves one wondering what short cuts and misrepresentations are being used by some of the other stores.


I look back and think it to be an irony that the one person who got me to drop out of college for a job, ultimately got me into the career field I’ve been in every since. Oh, it doesn’t work that way for everyone so kids go to school and get edjumakated! lol  As you can see by resume at LinkedIn on the left, I finished my BA Cum Laude, so stick to the books and never give up.