ORIGINALLY WRITTEN DON RATZLAFF
Chad Dameron and Greg Jones have launched a business that combines state-of-the-art technology with old-time customer service.
The brothers from Peabody are a couple of computer doctors who make house calls.
They began CG Computer Solutions in February after years of helping friends and family as a hobby.
“We’ve been repairing, trouble-shooting and upgrading computers for almost 20 years and just helping people on the side,” said Jones, who is 32. “We finally got together and said we ought to start something up where we could collectively help out the community and surrounding area.”
They opted to bring their services to the customer rather than the other way around.
“There’s nobody out there who makes house calls, so we thought that was a good idea,” said Dameron, who’s 38. “Most of what do we can do right there and they don’t have to haul it in anywhere.”
Jones said in-home service is a boon for people who use computers but aren’t well versed in the mechanics of their system.
“The main fear of everybody is, ‘How am I going to get all those cords back in the right place again?'” Jones said.
“Besides that, people are tired of taking them into chain stores and waiting for service,” he added. “Not to mention the impersonal service they get there.”
The brothers focus on the Peabody-Marion-Hillsboro area, but they’ve made house calls as far away Wichita and Salina.
So far, they haven’t set any limits on how far they’ll drive to help a client.
“We kind of argue on the phone sometimes who has to drive,” Dameron said with a chuckle. “But we keep it pretty even.”
CG Computer Solutions services and repairs older IBM-compatible systems and also sells units, parts and accessories for new systems. They also set up every new system they sell to ensure it works correctly.
Dameron specializes in the older systems.
“It’s more of a challenge,” he said. “A lot of people who work on PCs don’t like to get an older system with an older operating system on it. They just want to get rid of that and put a new system in.”
What really energizes him is trying to save data when a system-old or new-goes on the fritz.
“The biggest thing for me is that I like to try to save as much data as I can-all of it, actually,” Dameron said. “The easiest thing to do to fix a computer is formatting and reinstalling everything-but that’s not necessarily the best thing to do.”
Adds Jones: “You take it to most places and they’ll say, ‘You’re going to have to reinstall Windows.’ But if you do that, you lose all your data. If you want to try to extract that data, you’re talking about paying anywhere from $75 to $125 an hour to do that. We do that for a lot less.”
Most of CG Computer Solutions clients are residential, but the brothers said their list of commercial costumers has been growing.
“On the commercial side, we do networking as well,” Jones said. “A lot of the problems on networks are very simple and, instead of paying high dollars to have a certified network guy come out and change a setting, we can take care of that for at least half the cost-or less.”
Their most common calls, though, are virus-related. They’ve also been called in to repair damage caused by lightning-and by well-intentioned family and friends.
“Someone will call us and say, ‘My cousins came over and fixed my computer and now it doesn’t work. Can you come fix it?'” said Dameron.
The brothers have been tinkering with computers since IBM released its first personal computer in 1981, but it took them three years to finally decide to turn their hobby into a business.
“We had been doing it forever and when one of us had something we couldn’t figure out, we’d call the other one,” Jones said. “We finally just got tired of calling each other and said, ‘Hey, let’s do this.'”
Added Dameron: “When I actually decided I wanted to go ahead and do it, I just made up my mind that whatever it takes, I was going to do it. That’s basically what we’ve both been doing.”
So far, both brothers have full-time jobs in Wichita-Jones is in office administration and Dameron does computer drafting. A lot of their CG Computer Solutions work is done during evenings and weekends, but they aren’t limited to that.
“Our schedules are real flexible to where if we have a business that pops up, we can break away and do it,” Jones said.
Although they enjoy their other jobs, they hope to make CG Computer Solutions a full-time business eventually.
“I think it’s going to get to a point where we’re going to have make a decision,” Dameron said.
And, even though they plan to continue making in-home service the hallmark of their business, they also hope to find a storefront at some point. Currently, they work out of their home.
“We’d like a storefront for those people who just want to be able to drop it off and pick it up,” Jones said. “Some people don’t feel comfortable with you in their home and others don’t want to tie up their evenings or weekends.”
But those customers have been the exception.
“For the most part, the communities have welcomed in-home service,” Jones said. “It’s just amazing. We joked around with it at first, but it’s just incredible the response that we’ve had.”