Fairmont adding computer shop

FAIRMONT – This week, JL Computers will hold a ribbon-cutting ceremony, to be followed up next week by its grand opening, but the locally owned business isn’t entirely new.

Proprietor John Landsteiner has been working toward this moment for years, which says a lot about the maturity of the 21-year-old entrepreneur.

Landsteiner got his start in the computer industry just out of high school, when Jim Thate took a chance and hired the teen to work at Modern Office Systems in Fairmont.

“The world of technology changes so fast, it doesn’t matter what you previously knew,” Thate told the boy. “What matters is how fast you learn, if you’re an honest person and a hard worker.”

Landsteiner fit the bill. When he left to start his own business, he knew it would take time and perseverance to reach his goal. He had no credit history and no chance of attaining a loan, so he saved and reinvested any money he made into the business, until he was able to take out a lease with a storefront property.

Located at 206 E. Third St., in Fairmont, JL Computers offers its customers standard computer services, such as virus removal, tune-ups, reinstallation of operating systems, customized setup of home networks, hardware repair, etc.

“One of the only things I don’t do is soldering,” Landsteiner said, “and that’s because I don’t have the tools.”

He also doesn’t repair Macs, not yet anyway. If the demand is great enough to warrant Apple’s stringent training requirements for technicians, it’s an option he is open to in the future. Landsteiner does work with Linux, however. It is a free computer operating system with free and open source software, made by the people, for the people, so to speak.

Though he had initially began the business with the intention to focus on home users, he has since expanded because of demand from local businesses that have sought his skills.

Landsteiner also sells computers and some basic products, like mice and keyboards, from his shop. But he won’t tout one brand over another. What he looks for in a computer is a high-quality product at a reasonable price, which fits with his business motto: “Fast. Affordable. Simple.”

He is also in the process of creating his own brand of computers. He calls it Atlas, after the Greek Titan who is said to hold the world on his shoulders. Atlas isn’t quite ready to be rolled out yet, but the finished product will be a “very, very fast computer, with high-quality parts.” There is a cost for such high quality, which means Atlas won’t be for everyone. Landsteiner plans to back his brand with a three-year warranty.

When launching the business and creating his motto, Landsteiner talked to prospective customers to find out what they wanted. Fast turnaround for repairs was one request, even if it means turning a potential client away if the technician can’t get the job done promptly.

Affordability is another factor he has taken into account.

“I’m not here to charge a bundle of money,” he said, noting that he has done the math to find a balance that allows him to fairly charge the customer and pay himself.

Last but not least, Landsteiner wants to avoid the “smoke and mirrors” that sometimes accompanies technical work. It’s true the problems he fixes are often technical and difficult to explain, but he finds a way.

“I often use analogies to help people understand,” he said. “Automobiles and the human brain are two easy things to compare a computer to.”

He hopes the end result of his efforts is an old-style business, with no flash – just straight-up good service at a good price.

JL Computers is open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, and Saturdays by appointment. Landsteiner can be reached by phone at (507)235-9418 or email him at jlandsteiner@workmail.com