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McClatchy-Tribune  06/15/2014 12:51 PM ET
Tech PhD cures computers' ills [The Hawk Eye, Burlington, Iowa :: ]

June 15--If a home computer user has a problem with their computer, well, Dr. Phil and Dr. Nick are available and on call to make it feel better.

Phil Young and Nick Daniel are not actual doctors, but serve as the manager and tech specialist, respectively, of a new downtown Burlington business -- Tech PhD. The main purpose of the enterprise is to cure the ills of people's home computers.

Tech PhD is a division of Drake Hardware & Software, and is the brainchild of partners Dana Johnston and Jeff Johnson.

"We've always done home user business," said Johnston, the CEO of Drake Hardware & Software. "We decided we were going to open a home division. That's when we contacted Phil to manage."

"I called Phil. I have an idea, what do you think?" she added.

Young sold his Burlington business, Digital Office Solutions, on Nov. 5 and was looking for a new challenge.

"I knew Jeff and Dana for years," Young said.

The idea for a computer repair shop with a doctor theme spawned from a common saying home users spout when their computer is on the fritz -- "I have to take my computer to the doctor. It has a virus."

So, Johnston and Young ran with the doctor idea, which is evident throughout the store at 611 Jefferson St. If a customer brings their home computer through the front door, they automatically are in the doctor's waiting room. Either Dr. Phil or Dr. Nick will complete an admittance form for the patient, give the owner a prescription for its repair, and sign a patient release form when the owner picks up their computer.

The PhD part of the business name was a happy coincidence as they were thinking they wanted the enterprise to serve as a "personal help desk."

"It snowballed from personal help desk," Johnston said.

And to top it off, Young and Daniel sport white lab coats with their doctor names stitched on the front.

Drake Hardware & Software served the home computer user, but Johnston felt they needed more room and a separate division for the service.

The store officially opened June 3, and what is the most common ailment the doctors have come across so far ... "virus, virus, virus."

Two of the longer repairs in the store are fixing a virus situation or making changes to settings inside the computer if a user loses their Microsoft password.

Tech PhD sells AVG, an anti-virus software, that can be installed on a home computer.

What's one of the easier tasks?

"A simple cleaning because its running slow," Daniel said.

Typically, Daniel is multi-tasking and able to work on three computers at once.

For many home computer users, the Internet and Facebook are life blood and they feel disconnected from the world if the computer suffers a problem. And they want the problem fixed immediately.

"We want to make sure they are satisfied," Young said. "We'd like to be on a two- to three-day turnaround."

The doctors make house calls as well. Tech PhD's hours are shortened on Tuesdays and Fridays from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., so Young and Daniel can make house calls in the afternoon. Otherwise, the store's hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Monday and Wednesday, and 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Thursday. The store can be reached at (319) 208-1010.

Tech PhD's services go beyond repair as the shop sells new and used computers of any brand.

"We work with a company that gets a lot of used computers off lease," Johnston said. "They've been taken care of fairly well. Usually we don't have to do a lot to the used computers."

The store also sells software, with Quicken and Quick Books the most often requested by customers.

The store will go the extra mile as Daniel helped a customer set up a Facebook page.

Tech PhD plans to hold small seminars on teaching the basics of Facebook.

"It is like social time at Tech PhD," Johnston said.

Young said being a division of Drake Hardware & Software gives Tech PhD additional support and assets.

"We have a team behind us," Young said. "We have instant credibility."

For those home users with ailing computers, Tech PhD can say the doctors are in.


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