MARSHALL?-?Curtis Gratz, the owner of Everything Computers in Marshall, first became fascinated with computers at the age of about 10 when he played with his dad's Texas Instruments computer.
"It hooked up to a black and white TV," he said. "You had to save to a cassette recorder."
He went to school for computer repair in Granite Falls in 2000, but didn't finish the program. He is now finishing up the basic courses needed for an associate degree in computer support.
Photo by Karin Elton
Everything Computers owner Curtis Gratz removes a still-functional power supply from an old CPU to combine it with other parts to make a refurbished computer to sell at a lower cost.
"I've completed all the computer courses," he said.
In the intervening 10 years he has done truck driving, route sales, worked in a machine shop, did construction work and started to take an online electrician course, but throughout all that time he was the go-to guy with his friends and family when they had problems with their computers.
"I was the computer guy in the family," he said.
At the machine shop where he worked for five years he was the unofficial in-house tech guy.
"I set up their whole network," Gratz said.
He finally decided to go on his own and devote his working life to computers. After working out of another computer store, Gratz opened Everything Computers on 5th Street in July.
"I'm always looking for a challenge," he said. "I like having the responsibility."
Gratz said there is a lot of technological information that he doesn't know yet.
"It's always changing," he said. "There is always going to be something new."
He wants to be a full service "computer guy" for his customers - doing everything from diagnosing viruses to setting up a service provider.
He is partnering with Rackspace, a "managed services provider," he said. "Cloud computing reduces the cost for you, you don't need to pay for the electricity, tapes and DVDs deteriorate over time or are vulnerable to fire or other disasters."
Gratz said having a server "in the clouds" takes the stress off the business owner because he or she doesn't have to worry about maintaining the equipment at the proper temperature, "it's all done elsewhere and they have backup generators in case of power outages."
Gratz said wants to be a "complete in-house solution provider" for his customers.
Gratz will test for hardware problems, but he would rather have a maintenance contract with an individual or business to prevent problems from happening.
"It's like with a car - with proper maintenance it will last longer," he said.
In addition to fixing and maintaining computers as well as providing services through Rackspace, Gratz is interested in recycling computers - making old computers available to someone who could use it or taking parts from nonworking computers and making a refurbished computer.
"Maybe it could be a functional computer for someone at a lower cost," he said.