When Ken Gelineau, Owner of Computer A Services, got his first professional “taste” of the digital world, it was in the late 80s while working as Director of Operations for a retail company in Connecticut. After three years of assisting that company with their digital transition, Gelineau was offered a job in Melbourne, FL, working for Retail Data Systems (RDS). He and his wife moved to New Smyrna Beach, to be closer to family, while Gelineau made the daily commute to RDS in Melbourne. By 1998, an opportunity presented itself to start a side business and Gelineau took it.
“I bought a Gateway and started doing computer support – mainly Windows assistance for individuals,” he said. “It certainly wasn’t anything to live on, but it was a good way to make some extra money and help people out. After a few years, word got out and I started picking up a few small businesses. By 2003, the business reached a point where it made sense to have a store front with staff. I left RDS and went for it. A year later, we moved to the location we’re at now.”
Gelineau shared that the decision to transition from a part-time business to an actual brick-and-mortar, while simultaneously leaving his day job with RDS, was scary. However, the business showed promising signs and the demand was there.
“As an employee, you get a paycheck every Friday,” he said. “As an entrepreneur, you have to create that paycheck. It was a big transition, but computers were becoming a necessity.”
Over the years, Gelineau grew from one part-time employee to nine full-time employees. He worked through a handful of challenges including, having to keep up with the tremendous pace of new technology, while keeping customers informed and providing services within their budgets. Much of the growth associated with Computer A Services was from referrals.
“We did some marketing in the early days, but a lot of our growth came from word-of-mouth,” Gelineau said. “About five years ago, after several requests from customers, we got into hosting and started a separate business – Hosting NSB. It was a great fit because people trusted our repair work. Before long, I had three employees dedicated to the hosting side of the business. Last year, I sold that business to focus on Computer A Services.”
When it comes to Southeast Volusia County, Computer A Services is a very established and well-known business. The have three on-site technicians and a total team that’s three times larger than most other local computer repair businesses. They provide full PC and MAC support and repair and offer remote access support for many part-time residents.
For Gelineau, much of the enjoyment derived from owning his own business comes from the ability to interact with customers and staff. “I’ve been in retail my whole life,” he said “Watching employees grow and learn and having them work together with the same mindset is very rewarding. I also enjoy getting to know our customers. A lot of people enjoy coming in, having a cup of coffee and talking to us. Having a presence in the community has certainly helped our reputation. I coached and sponsored sports teams for my kids and the community as well as refereed for the Police Athletic League for 15 years.”
Looking ahead, Gelineau is focused on continuing to grow his business. He’d like to move more towards commercial work and, depending on growth, will consider hiring additional employees. As New Smyrna Beach continues to grow, so will Computer A Services.
What advice does Gelineau have for aspiring entrepreneurs? “You have to hustle,” he said. “You also have to be fair and compassionate. Treat others how you want to be treated. Find good people and keep your nose to the grindstone. If you do that, you’ll survive.”