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A college student starts a burgeoning computer-related business in his dorm room. No, this isn’t “The Social Network,” a 2010 movie portraying Mark Zuckerberg and his creation of Facebook. This story is about Chehalis native Noe Ortiz.
Ortiz’ journey began while attending Walla Walla University, a private school in College Place, Eastern Washington. He had no idea what to major in when first arriving. All he knew was he liked computers and finding ways to fix them, so he enrolled as a computer science major, which is more programming-related than repair.
He soon earned a job at the information technology (IT) department at the university where he learned to test, build, install, repair and maintain the hardware and software in computer systems.
“I realized I really liked fixing computers, setting up networks and other things like that,” Ortiz said.
By then, he was too far along in the computer science program to switch to IT, which would be more suited to his newfound passion. So he came up with the idea to start his own IT company. There was only one problem: Ortiz was still living in a dorm room. That didn’t hamper his plans.
Ortiz started PC Savvy Computer Repair in 2013 and has been fixing people’s computer problems ever since.
Ortiz couldn’t invite customers into his dorm room, obviously, so he’d set up meetings at a nearby gas station to diagnose and fix laptops.
“That was very challenging,” Ortiz said. “It wasn’t big. It didn’t give me much, but I wanted to try my hand at doing a business so I did.”
In 2014, Ortiz moved out of the dorms and into an apartment building, which made business a bit easier. That’s also when he began taking it more seriously. Before long, he had a steady stream of customers. He moved back to Chehalis after graduating in June 2016 with a degree in computer science and brought his business with him.
Ortiz performs both hardware and software repair, mainly on Windows computers, including mobile phone and tablet repair, designing and printing. He also sells printer ink. Most of his business comes in repairing and replacing broken or cracked cellphone screens.
Much of his computer-related work comes with people bringing in their PCs that are running slow. When people download new programs on their PC, the programs usually turn on auto-startup. By the time a person has downloaded a handful of new programs over the years, they have a long list of them starting up and running each time they turn their PC on. That can drastically slow down a computer.
“It’s pretty easy to fix,” Ortiz said. “You just disable all the startup programs.”
One other slowdown issue he sees is older laptops and PCs are running on hard drives. Newer and higher-end models use solid-state drives, which are much faster. So there’s only so much Ortiz can do to speed up a laptop or PC with a hard drive. He typically recommends upgrading to a solid-state drive, which he can install.
“A solid-state upgrade gets even old computers feeling new,” Ortiz said. “They come in with a slow computer, I do the cleanup and then I’m like, ‘OK, it is faster but still somewhat sluggish. If you need more speed then a solid-state upgrade is what you should do.’”
One of the most rewarding aspects of his job is the satisfaction he gets from diagnosing problems and figuring out different avenues to fix them.
When something comes in, every computer has its little quirks,” Ortiz said. “Sometimes I do the procedure and it doesn’t really work. So there’s something else that needs to be figured out. When I figure something out, I just like the sense of accomplishment when I figure something out.”
He also tries to run his business honestly. When he first started, he was an idealist and thought some technicians were overcharging customers, dishonest to them and taking advantage of their lack of knowledge. It’s one of the reasons he decided to start his business.
“I try to explain things as simple as possible, and if there is something they need to spend money on, I try to help them understand why,” Ortiz said. “I don’t try to upsell people and things. I don’t like to take advantage of people.”
Ortiz recommends anyone interested in having their computer repaired to call 360-209-3352 and schedule an appointment. He does try to be in the store from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays, and from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Fridays.