“Then, Now, and the Future: Terry’s Computer Asylum Serving the Community”
Before Terry’s Computer Asylum
When people think of a success story and a garage, they tend to think of a band. This success story, however, is not that of a band, but of a small business, Terry’s Computer Asylum, dedicated to serving Sterling, Colorado, and surrounding communities.
Terry Dowis, owner, drove for a trucking company that hauled equipment for Hewlett-Packard, and when he reached the corporate office, Dowis was first intrigued and then inspired to learn everything he could about the technology of computers. However, it wasn’t until he had a computer problem of his own that he was motivated to begin working on computers.
“I called to see if a computer company would help me on the phone. They wanted me to bring it in. After they told me it would cost $49 an hour, I told them I’d give them a run for their money and decided to fix it myself,” Dowis says. And he did. This first personal computer repair sparked Dowis’s idea to fulfill a need in his community—to offer affordable computer repair with extended customer service.
Computer Repair: Why “Terry’s Computer Asylum”?
After recognizing a need in his community, Dowis began building his customer base in 1993 by word of mouth. Dowis did this on the side while working full-time for an amusement ride company as a ride electrician. In 1997, four years into building his customer base, Dowis decided to make his business official with the name “Terry’s Computers,” and later “Carousel Computers.” The name evolved into “Terry’s Computer Asylum” after a frustrating round with a computer. Dowis recounted how the name change came about: “I put my hands on my head and I sighed. My daughter asked what was wrong. I said, ‘This computer is driving me crazy!’ She giggled and said, ‘Maybe it should be Terry’s Computer Asylum, then.’”
On August 1, 2000, Dowis opened his first small store. “It was tiny. Two-hundred fifty square feet at the most,” Dowis says. Since then, Dowis has kept the name Terry’s Computer Asylum (TCA) but moved to a larger location (click to see video), also opening a second location in Ft. Morgan, Colorado.
Services Terry’s Computer Asylum Offers
Terry’s Computer Asylum offers sales, computer repair, small business networking, cell phone and tablet repair, and customer service. TCA charges by the job, and not by the hour, filling the community need for affordable computer repair with predictable pricing— no surprises.
In addition to the regular services one would expect of a computer business, Dowis also donates computers to nonprofit agencies. “If we are doing work for a church, we won’t charge labor. It’s all about serving the community,” Dowis says.
Dowis’s company upholds a quality reputation with an A+ rating with the Rocky Mountain Better Business Bureau. “Word of mouth is huge. We must be doing something right because the other computer company in town, I’m told, keeps stealing my business cards that are placed around town and replacing them with theirs,” Dowis laughs.
Another service that Dowis just began offering, free of charge, is digital sign-board advertising. “People can bring their flyers in for us to hang. We’ll scan them and put them into our digital sign-board, and it will just scroll through on a loop.”
Getting the Word Out about Affordable Computer Sales and Service
In the beginning, Dowis promoted his business with what he calls “fax blasts.” A fax blast is when you fax a flyer to multiple businesses at the same time. “My thinking was to reach more people with one fax, and to do that, I sent it to places of business where I knew a lot of people would see it.”
Although Dowis advertised on the radio and through newspaper ads for the first five years, he then began taking a different approach to advertising. “I started promoting at local events instead, like Relay for Life, School Annuals, After-Prom, Poker Runs, Big Boy Toys. I donate monetarily, computer parts, or certificates, but I also have a presence at the event. Most recently we started advertising during the free concerts, like the 4th of July concert, for Logan county and they play ads on the loudspeaker and fly our banner,” Dowis says.
Dowis’s different approach to advertising stems from his desire to support the community in a more impactful way than just offering affordable computer services.
Just for Fun
Dowis is not an “all work, no play” business owner. Each week, Dowis posts a map of the garage sales that will be held in town that weekend to his Facebook page. “I just make them for the community. I like doing it because it’s not always about making money. I’ve got a hell of a following,” Dowis said. Dowis has also begun recently posting a list of upcoming events for the community, as well. What is currently consuming much of Dowis’s time, though, in addition to computer repairs and his weekly garage sale map, is constructing a map of downtown Sterling businesses for tourists.
TCA and the Future of Computer Sales and Service in Sterling, Colorado
Terry’s Computer Asylum’s goals are to continue what he is doing, but also to evolve with the diverse world of changing technology. “I want to diversify in some way when the need arises. Technology is changing so fast; we will change with it,” Dowis says. Dowis also has long-term goals to possibly expand to additional locations.
Terry’s Computer Asylum is no longer an up-and-coming business; Terry’s Computer Asylum is a trusted and established business in Logan County, Colorado. If you Google the phrase “computer repair 80751,” Terry’s Computer Asylum is the first result. Dedicated to serving his community, Dowis plans on keeping that number one spot.