Quick Fix For Sick Computers

Jeff and Pauline Elkins at The Computer Hospital. Coco Zickos photo

By Jeff Elkins
Owner, The Computer Hospital

Please tell us about your business. We’re a computer repair business located in Kapa’a. We help people keep their computers in good shape, in addition to doing hardware and software repairs. People call us all the time for user tips, and we also build new systems. We fix any and all computers – however, we don’t do Macs. We have been here in this same location for 13 years now. I only took over the business in the beginning of 2011.

How did you get started in this business? I used to be in the radio industry. In fact, I worked radio here on Kaua’i for 13 or 14 years before I left. I used to work in Ele’ele and then I was the morning DJ on KQNG Radio for several years – Ron Wiley replaced me when he came to work here. I started getting interested in the radio automation systems back in the early to mid-1980s, and it was sort of a natural progression to move from radio into the computer industry because computers took over the radio industry. I kind of thought, as long as they have computers, they’ll need somebody to tell the computers what to do. So I decided really early that I wanted to be the guy to tell the computers what to do.

Why do you do what you do? I am singularly blessed in that I have been able to spend every single day of my working life doing something that I love doing so much, that is so fun, that I would be willing to come into here and do it for free as a hobby in my spare time if they didn’t want to pay me.

What’s the most challenging aspect of your business? The biggest challenge has been getting all the required permits from the government.

What’s the most rewarding aspect of your business? Always helping users. That’s the reason I got into this business, because I really can help people and that keeps me going every single day.

What makes you get up and go to work every day? Helping people. People come in here and say, “Help me, help me, please, I’ve lost all my data!” But usually they haven’t. It really, seriously is a helping thing. It’s the most wonderful thing in the world to be able to rescue somebody who thinks they’re in real trouble. I wish everybody could get that feeling.

What’s your best computer advice for people? Don’t be afraid of your computer. You’d be amazed at how many technophobes there are out there. Don’t be afraid to click around and look at things and experiment with stuff. The second advice would be keeping your data backed up.

What’s the biggest problem affecting PCs? The climate – it eats computers alive. Motherboards get all kinds of corrosion; hard drives die sooner than they should. The climate here and the salt air are a real serious problem for computers.

Do you have a business motto or philosophy? I’m definitely the kind of businessperson who would rather earn a customer for life than earn a dollar today.

What are your plans for the future? Working on trying to solidify a position in the home, family PC market.

Obviously we’d like to move into the business community and get more business clients. We are also hoping to grow back to the point where we can have technicians on the road. We do service calls right now, but it’s mostly after hours.

What is your success rate for repairing computers? It’s in the 95-96 percent ratio. I can fix anything. The only question is can it be cost-effective. Bring me a 10-to 15-year-old computer, I can put it back in like-new condition if you throw enough money at it. But I always first ask the question: “Is this worth repairing?”

Do more people repair their computers these days as opposed to buying new? I haven’t really noticed any change at all in the current economic downturn.

If you weren’t doing this, what would you be doing? Probably trying to get my old morning show on KQNG Radio back. I love Ron Wiley, he’s a good guy, but I loved that job when I had it years ago.