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Computer problem? Northerspeed can help

Computer techs, from left, Russ Baker, Ben Danforth and Ty Brown operate Northerspeed. 
 (Jesse Tinsley / The Spokesman-Review)
Computer techs, from left, Russ Baker, Ben Danforth and Ty Brown operate Northerspeed. (Jesse Tinsley / The Spokesman-Review)

Buying a computer doesn’t have to be an intimidating experience, thanks to the three patient “computer guys” at Northerspeed.

Ty Brown, 24, Ben Danforth, 23, and Russ Baker, 22, have created a place for those not-so-computer literate folks to go to get expert advice, repair and even quasi-counseling about the machines with which many of us have a love/hate relationship.

Baker and Danforth have been best friends since the seventh grade.

“Russ and I started out playing games,” Danforth said. “We spent a lot of time on our computers when we were younger. We started building them in the seventh grade. Even in high school, Russ and I had to fix a lot of the machines at school.”

Brown and Baker worked together for two years at another computer store. Northerspeed was launched in October 2002 after Brown found an affordable location, on Neider Avenue just west of Costco.

“I got tired of working for somebody else,” Brown said. “I thought, ‘You know what, I’m making as much money here as I’ll ever make, so I’ll take a risk and dive into it and see if I can make it a success,’ and so far it has been.”

Brown had a good customer base that followed him. Word of mouth and a good reputation has brought in more customers. Every dime they make goes back into the business. The partners are proud that they can now earn real paychecks and pay the bills.

Brown and Baker started out Northerspeed and added Danforth two years ago.

“I had to beg and plead for Ben to come work for us,” Brown said. “He was working for another place; he thought we were crazy, ‘You guys don’t make any money, what would I want to do that for?’ “

They keep the playing field even, with each of them getting paid the same. They tried out other employees, but it didn’t work.

“Everybody wants a job but nobody wants to work,” Brown said. “The whole reason we’re alive is because our customers like us and continue to reuse us.”

All three young entrepreneurs are local, having grown up here. Baker’s father, Tom, is a CPA, and his wife, Tracy, is a bookkeeper. Tracy does the books for Northerspeed.

“They keep us in shape,” Brown said.

Brown is also motivated to succeed due to his own rough childhood.

“I would like for more people to understand, that just because you come from a rough neighborhood or rough childhood, that you’re not a failure. You can do whatever you want to do. Use that as an incentive to do more.”

None of the three partners finished college because they got too busy working. They travel to Portland every quarter for up-to-the minute training from the technicians at Intel.

“The biggest part of our training is on the job,” Brown said. “We’ve been thrown into every scenario imaginable as far as computers are concerned. We’ve just about seen it all.”

Although they fix computers for a living, none of these guys has an impressive computer at home. Brown said his home computer is made from used toaster parts.

“I do not want to go home and sit at a computer!” he said.

Ditto for Danforth. He uses his home computer to check his bank account and movie times and that’s about it.

“The computers you buy off the shelves are not the computers you want,” Brown said. The computers from big-name big-box computer stores are made from parts that are not available by the time they hit the shelf.

“The true system that’s going to last awhile, and do what you want it to do is still going to cost $1,200 to $1,500,” Brown said. “We’re not going to sell a $300 computer that you’re going to hate me for in three months.”

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