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When Allen and Dianna Hueber launched PC Solutions 30 years ago, individuals and businesses relying on PCs had limited means of tech support, making the use of the evolving technology frustrating if not intimidating.
The year was 1991. Allen Hueber had a vision. He would start a full-service company that provided PC sales, service, and consulting. He had amassed the experience from supporting 150 PC users for a local manufacturing company. He also understood the Jackson area market from living in the vicinity since the late 1970s.
Joining forces with his wife Dianna, Allen set forth to carve a niche in the community as a premier IT and network consulting company. The Huebers succeeded, and in April, celebrated their 30th year in business.
Today, the family-owned and operated PC Solutions serves businesses and consumers in Michigan and across the United States. Customers span all business sectors and range in size from two to 200 users.
Starting a family business, Allen and Dianna said, is something they’ve never looked back on. Although the demands can sometimes be 24/7, the two agreed that’s the nature of the business.
“We’re a solution provider,” said Allen, President of PC Solutions . “It feels good to solve problems for our customers.”
In the early 1990s, Allen was working for Cam Shaft Machine Company located in Jackson. He was the on-site PC guy that people called to trouble shoot computer issues—be it navigating software, repairing hardware, or building PCs. Sometimes people who worked at the facility asked Allen to help out with a home-based computer. He did that, too.
As the side-jobs grew, Allen decided to start his own business. For a while, he worked full-time and free-lanced nights and weekends. In 1992, he made his business official. He applied for a DBA, and “hung out his shingle” as PC Solutions in April 1992.
“Allen was the visionary and technology side,” said Dianna, company VP. “I joined later on to provide the other pieces so he could concentrate on taking care of the customers.”
Dianna described the early days of PC Solutions when Allen “took over” part of their basement at their Jackson home. He built a full-service bench room that spanned most of the basement. As he started to encroach on laundry areas and other spaces, Dianna encouraged him to expand upstairs.
Allen renovated a second-floor area, but as his business grew, so did the need for space. In 1994, he rented a 700-square foot space in the basement of the Markowski and Company building on Spring Arbor Road.
Like her husband, Dianna recognized the upward trajectory of PC Solutions. She left her full-time job in the automotive industry in 1998, and officially donned the moniker as PC Solutions VP. In the very same year, the Huebers bought and renovated a 5,000-square foot facility on Franklin Street. The company outgrew the space and the Huebers set their sights on their current 11,000-square foot facility, purchasing, and renovating the Jackson facility at 1200 S. West Ave. in 2011.
“Our expansions always seemed to be tied to the birth of our children,” laughed Dianna. “Our first was born in 1991 when Allen left his full-time job. We welcomed our second in 1994 when we moved into the Markowski building. Then in 1998, I left my full-time job and we moved again.”
Looking back, Dianna remarked that they couldn’t have done what they did without the support of their families. Starting and running a business, especially one that grew as fast as their children, required extra help. Both sets of parents watched the kids when business demands stretched the days into nights.
“We did most of the moving and renovations ourselves,” Dianna said. “Our dads came in and helped. As our kids got older, they helped out where they could with office tasks or with the renovations—painting, laying carpet and removing wallpaper. We definitely would not be where we are today without them.”
Growing and changing
As technology advanced, PC Solutions kept pace with the industry, adding remote services, VoIP and Cloud solutions, surveillance systems, and disaster recovery.
“We’ve adapted in the way we provide service,” said Allen. “In most instances, we’re essentially a company’s IT staff. We can also provide specific areas of support to companies that have their own IT departments such as help desk services or network management.”
Allen added that the company’s Managed IT Service plan includes regular maintenance and 24/7 monitoring and support, and a host of other services.
“Our primary goal is to make your business’ IT work for you,” Allen said. “Whatever works best for your business, we build to suit your needs.”
The biggest change, Allen said, is simply the industry itself. Back in the 1990s, a desktop might run as much as $4,000. Today, starting costs are $500 and up. Laptops dominate versus desktop systems.
The internet was and continues to be a game changer. For example, software for devices was mail-ordered, and installed via external disks. Today, software can be downloaded and installed with a series of clicks on a keyboard. The speed of the internet has supercharged the pace of communication making the crawl of a 56K dialup modem a memory as distant as a rotary phone.
The staff of PC Solutions has been key to the company’s success and growth. Many of the 17 full-time staff members boast long tenures, with a handful being with the company 10-plus years.
Staff are required to have industry experience and knowledge, as well as certifications. The path, Allen said, is typically certification in basic hardware and software, followed by network, security, and server certifications. Many staff have graduated or been trained through the Jackson Area Career Center, Jackson College, and Baker College. The company also partners with industry leaders including Microsoft, Cisco, Intel, Lenovo, Dell, and Acer.
As a family-run business, the Huebers regard their staff as extended family. They celebrate milestones, hold birthday celebrations, organize cookouts, and have regular pizza and movie nights. A few staff even play in a band with Allen, providing the entertainment for special get-togethers.
“We grew up in the ‘80s, so our band is heavy metal,” said Dianna.
As they embark on a fourth decade of business, the Huebers said they have never lost sight of their core strengths of hardware and network support. Doing so, they admit, has been challenging considering the dynamic landscape of the technology industry.
“But we’ve done it,” Dianna said, “while simultaneously changing and adapting to the times.”