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Published: Monday, 2/19/2007

Toledo computer firm networks service

BY JON CHAVEZ
BLADE BUSINESS WRITER
Mike Curtis, left, Mike Van Sky, and Tom Allen have moved Virtual PCs to downtown and expanded beyond the retail market to primarily serve medical and educational institutions. Mike Curtis, left, Mike Van Sky, and Tom Allen have moved Virtual PCs to downtown and expanded beyond the retail market to primarily serve medical and educational institutions.
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The name Virtual PCs has been known to Toledo-area computer users for nearly two decades, but few of them may know that six years ago the firm had a schism.

Area Virtual PCs retail stores, which were franchised and continue to sell parts and systems and do repairs for home computer users, broke off, but kept their names.

Meanwhile, Tom Allen a Virtual PCs employee, bought the original company, which had begun selling networks and maintenance service to area businesses.

He gambled on taking it even further into the business-to-business realm. It's a move he doesn't regret in the least.

Virtual PCs - which bears the original name but has no affiliation with the retail stores - has evolved into a $6 million company that primarily serves the computing needs of medical and educational institutions.

"Businesses can't be treated the same as a retail customer," Mr. Allen said.

"They need a level of customer service that goes beyond what you provide a customer that walks into a store," Mr. Allen said.

Russell Kille, technology coordinator at Toledo Christian Schools, said a customer-first attitude is why his schools have been a customer for seven years. The schools have a $1 million network of 10 computer servers and 300 work stations.

"I like them because they're really more about making a relationship than making money," Mr. Kille said. "I think they always try to do right by me, even if they may end up losing some money in the end."

Previously, Virtual PCs' product line was mostly Dell Computer products, but now it custom-builds systems.

The local firm acquired one of its top competitors, Office World, of Lima, thereby doubling its business and clients but also adding new product lines, such as Gateway Computers.

Its territory runs from the Ohio border south to Allen County, and from Lucas County east to Cleveland.

"It was really a nice fit. Office World was bigger in sales, and Virtual PCs had the bigger [information technology] people," said Mike Van Sky, vice president of Office World.

With its purchase, Virtual PCs offers clients everything: computer systems, maintenance, Web design and services, phone systems, copiers, and computer furniture.

"It really lets us offer what we call a full-package solution," Mr. Allen said.

As a result, the company's goals have grown that much bigger.

Contact Jon Chavez at:

jchavez@theblade.com

or 419-724-6128.

Small Business Profile is a weekly feature on local companies. To be considered, send information about your company to Small Business Profiles, Business News, The Blade, P.O. Box 921, Toledo, Ohio 43697-0921.



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