Sam Clippinger and business partner Shannon Tucker both worked for large companies in downtown Kansas City before deciding in 2007 to branch out on their own. The two took over Computer Upgrade, a downtown Lee’s Summit business at 100 A S.W. Third St. that was once operated out of the previous owner’s garage in Greenwood. Open since 2007, Clippinger and Tucker have found owning a business to be liberating and well worth the leap of faith it took to abandoned corporate America. Clippinger, co-owner and manager of Computer Upgrade, talked with the Journal about the business and its services.
What made you open Computer Upgrade?
(Tucker) and I were both working for other large companies and decided that we wanted to basically worked for ourselves and see if we could build something ourselves. We decided to quit our former employers and give it a shot. It’s worked out pretty well for us actually.
In 2007, the economy was a year or so away from a downturn, what was your thought process in when you guys opened your business?
In 2007 the downturn hadn’t happened yet. It didn’t actually hit until like the summer of 2008. We didn’t get a lot of warning on that. Had we known in advance what was going to happen I don’t know what we would have decided. Even through the downturn we’ve been growing every year.
Talk about being able to grow your business despite economic uncertainty that the country was facing.
It’s interesting. Basically what we’ve found is that people still need their computers fixed whether business is down or not. You can’t run a business these days without computers, so our customers still keep calling even though their phones may not be ringing. If their computer isn’t working they are definitely going to be out of business. The biggest thing that we noticed during the downturn when it was really bad was that nobody wanted to buy equipment anymore. Everybody wanted us to fix what they already had. We’ve been able to see that the economy is getting better because we are able to sell new equipment now.
What are some of the services available at Computer Upgrade?
We do a little bit of everything. We’re kind a jack of all trades kind of place. We do business networking – all the way from installing wiring in new office buildings to setting up and supporting servers. We do residential work so we come in and visit people’s houses ands set up computers and troubleshoot email problems. We help people set up their smart phones. We do an awful lot of support over the phone and remotely through the internet, too, which saves us a lot of gas and saves customers a lot of time.
How many employees do you guys have?
We have four full-time employees and one part-time employee.