Ryan Thomason

WPR Perspective: We Talk to the CEO of the Best Computer Retailer Around

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I had the pleasure of talking to Dan Young, CEO and Owner of PC Laptops the dominant PC and Laptop retailer and repair company in Utah and Nevada. I’ll be honest, I was nervous as hell when I saw his number flashing on my phone, my recording app was broken so I had to go straight up old school. I wrote stuff down with a pen and paper. Add on top that that, (full disclosure) this is someone that I really respect and admire as a businessmen and wish to emulate the kind of success he’s had with my own little company here at WatchPlayRead.

We talked a little about the business, and what he geeks out over (unsurprisingly, it’s computer related!) you can tell why his company has won so many Best in State awards. When a personable CEO is willing to have a candid phone interview at 9pm, you can only assume that filters through the employees and gives you the outstanding customer service they are known for. Employees are only as good as their boss shows them through actions. Going on that line of thought, Dan is probably a damn good boss to have.

We did talk a little about his son Jake, if you live in Utah, you’ve heard his son practically grow up with listeners on the radio. Now that Jake prefers to be known as a “Computer Guy” the protege actually convinced Dan to let him do radio ads, they recorded a couple in the studio and the rest is history. TV ad’s has always been what PC Laptops is known for, as crazy and hilarious as they can be, they try to keep it as “family friendly” as possible according to Dan. So you’ll have to wait a long time for anything crazy like Dan trying to sell you computers with a bunch of strippers in the background. I’m just fine with the Geeky ones they currently have.

What you may not have known is that Dan actually serves on both the Intel Board of Advisors and the Miscrosoft Partner Advisory Council. As he explained it, both give him access to new, emerging technology and input with professionals that can be shakers and movers in the tech industry. I can only day dream of the kind of face to face and conference call meetings he’s had with people at two of the biggest tech powerhouses in the world, and no, he wouldn’t divulge any trade secrets. It’s hard to not have a little more faith in someone who sells you a product when you know that they themselves are highly regarded enough to have that kind of access. Let’s just hope he doesn’t use it for evil, like building a villainous lair under the Great Salt Lake or something.

If you look at him though, usually through his Facebook page, you can tell that he spends a lot of time at the gym. He didn’t always use to be that way, saying that staying fit had to become a daily thing. His best tips? Do something active for at least an hour a day, just get away from the computer screen, walk around the mall or go outside, do SOMETHING. The other big one, especially when gaming is munch of something tasty, but filling. While he did mention that before he’s going in for a long WoW session or getting ready to do any long stretch of very much not physical activity, his wife makes him some “Crazy Veggie Drink” I don’t want to say too much in case she reads this, but the taste department of said drink was a little suspect.

Diving deeper into the latest craze of Social networking, especially when it comes to the king of all things Social, Facebook we both agreed that any business worth it’s salt should be Facebooking. When it comes to having a “personal touch” with his fans who are more importantly his customers and livelihood, Facebook has been an incredible tool for building a unique customer service tool. It came down to the company philosophy that the customers will come back to you if you treat them like family and engage them in a personable and knowledgeable way. He really impressed that through social networking it becomes an extension of what you are trying to accomplish in the lobby of your store, a business relationship not with unknown customers, but friends.

PC Laptops has done a lot of growing in the past couple of years, ever since they pushed South from Salt Lake, setting up shops in Las Vegas and Henderson, Nevada. PC Laptops has been setting their sites now on pushing further North moving up into Idaho (I’m assuming the booming frontier town of Boise is on his list) and East into Colorado. When I crossed my fingers on asking him if he had a secret lab somewhere making groundbreaking computers I must have jinxed something. When we did get into the nitty gritty though, the one thing that they really focus on when looking at hardware for new computers is reliability. See, they have life time parts and labor warranties on the products so obviously they’re going to test systems until they’ve found a piece of hardware that can stand the test of time. They do look into the community when it comes to what is the thing that everyone is gushing over. If gamers are going bananas over a graphics card and it works out on their (PC Laptops) end, you can bet your bottom dollar that it’ll be in their next line of computers. Sadly, we won’t be getting any Tablets from PC Laptops in the near future. After talking about how saturated the market is already, Dan pointed that Tablets are what he calls “Consumption” devices. They’re there to watch videos, read books and play games. When the technology is there for tablets to be true “Creation” devices is when we’ll more than likely start seeing your own Tablet from them. If he had to chose one computer as his favorite, it was hands down The Juggernaut when he was talking about it, he was literally gushing, you could tell he loves this piece of equipment, or the premium example of what he calls their “Creation” devices.

Also, sorry all you Apple junkies, but they won’t be making any Apple OS or Macbook related products. Apple keeps a tight ship on modifying their goods, while his guys are more than willing to repair Apple products you won’t be seeing any laptops with any Apple Operating Systems selling in their shops. If you are someone who wants to get into Linux or Ubuntu, but the setup for those is beyond your scope, they’ll do it for you. Basically it comes down to what the end user wants, and you don’t have to be a big commercial company buying 15 laptops to have it made your way. While they’re just as willing to install Windows 7 (minus all the bloatware mind you) with the MS Office suite, they’ll work with you on getting thing setup whatever is best for you, and honestly, you can’t get that at a big box or big chain computer supplier who are totally locked in on what they put on systems and all the useless programs that have to get slapped on them.

Finally, I got to talk to him a little about his geek side, because deep down, we’re all geeky for something. When asked, Dan classifies himself more of a “Nerd” with an obvious hard leaning toward technology he said his current obsession is high productivity maximization. Building a tower that can stream THREE different monitors and data is what he has been pushing for people to try the most. Not dinky monitors too, he thinks you should have the big fellas, the 27” ones, all three lined up and producing maximum efficiency. He was telling me that the amount of work you can get done with that kind of investment is incredibly worth it. (We’ll save our opinion until *ahem* maybe a certain computer making company helps us recognize said efficiency *wink, wink*) He’s not a COMPLETE Nerd, we did talk about how great the reboot of Battlestar Galactica was (both of us in agreement with the hotness/awesomness of Katee Sackhoff as Starbuck) though Erin Gray (of Buck Rodgers fame) was the first woman to take his heart as a youngster. He surprised the hell out of me when he said Toxic Avenger was one of his favorite movies. Toxic Avenger, yes, look it up. He’s kept his old comic/star wars/everything else collection but mostly handed it down to his son Jake, who unsurprisingly plays the Call of Duty games, his kids (Nyah his daughter included) are playing Portal 2, which if you know WPR, we highly approve of this game choice While he seems to have torn himself away from the time sink that is World of Warcraft, I gave him an appreciative nod that he couldn’t see over the phone when he told me that Warhammer 40k had taken WoW’s place. Even though he’s a Sci-fi guy, unless he had piles of money to buy a seat on something like Virgin Galactics Space Ship that will soon be shutting people into LEO (Low Earth Orbit) he’d rather use the money to help people here on the ground.

And I couldn’t think of a better way to close out this article with such a grounded and down to Earth person.

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