Steve Wiseman, better known to his customers as the Geeky Hillbilly, got into the computer repair business out of necessity.
He had bought a computer for the family when he still lived in North Carolina.
“I never even touched a computer until about 2001,” he said while sitting outside his workshop at the end of S. Cuiver Street here in Bowing Green.
“Our first computer was a Macintosh, and I killed it,” he said with a chuckle. He had dragged the Mac icon into the recycle bin and emptied it. The screen went black. When he called the company, he said they told him you can’t do that.
“I said, ‘I can too, I just done it.’” He told them to send him another computer and a representative and he’d show him how he did it.
Then his sister got a deal where she bought a laptop Dell and received a desktop model with it. She sent the desktop computer to Steve and his family.
“I had two teenage daughters at the time, and I was the only one working trying to support the family,” he said. “And whenever we started having computer problems, it was, ‘Daddy, fix it.’”
He couldn’t afford to take it to the shop, so Steve would call, but they would not answer his simple questions over the phone.
“They would all say the same thing, ‘Bring it in, and we’ll have a look at it,’” he said. But he couldn’t afford to do that.
“And I always told myself, if I ever started a business, I would not do people that way,” he said.
He understood that answering the questions like his meant they were not getting any money for repairs, but word would spread on how helpful they were and that would help them build more business.
“That was the whole point of starting my business,” he added. He had seen the need—people in the same situation as him, who needed reliable and affordable service on their computers.
“I like helping people,” he said.
Before computer repairs, Steve worked in the construction business and at a corrugated box factory.
While at the box factory, Steve said he met a young man who knew quite a lot about computers and taught him how keep his Dell running.
“He helped me get started,” Steve said. The more he worked on computers, the more he became interested in how they operated. He would go to flea markets and buy old computers to work on, building his knowledge base as he went.
“You learn what you can do and what you can’t do,” he said.
Even though he was largely self-taught, Steve earned a Pell Grant to attend college, where he took computer classes. He was working during the day, so he could only attend college at night.
“I wanted to go for web design,” he said, “but they didn’t have enough students signed up for that class to pay for an instructor for the nighttime classes.”
Eventually, he graduated with a certificate in information technology.
Starting Geeky Hillbilly LLC
The name for his company came from his significant other, Balinda Kirchner. He said she heard his southern accent and learned about his love for computers and one day called him her Geeky Hillbilly. The name stuck and made perfect sense for his business.
In addition to computer repairs, Steve recycles as much equipment as he can. His goal is to keep computers and electronics out of the landfills. He said the three R’s of recycling are Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. Reduce the waste, reuse what you can, and recycle what you can’t use.
“I’m sure that there are some businesses that have printers or old computers laying around that they don’t know what to do with,” he said. “And individuals, too.”
“I’d like to see more people get into recycling electronics,” he added. “Some of it (those old electronics/computers) could be repurposed.”
If you’re worried about what might be on a computer’s hard drive, Steve said he uses the same technology as the Department of Defense to wipe the data before he starts his repairs and or recycling work.
“I want to make sure no one’s personal information gets out there,” he explained.
“And if it (the computer) could be repurposed it could be re-sold or donated,” he said.
He only charges $60 an hour, and said he can do most repairs in one to two hours.
He didn’t start the business to get rich.
“I’m here to help you with your computer problem,” he said. “If there was a way to do this for free and still pay my expenses, I’d do it.”
He’s been in business in Bowling Green for 1.5 years and has kept his pricing the same. He’d stopped for a time after leaving Vandalia, but restarted it after learning of the need for having a business like his in this area.
“I’ve no intention of raising my price,” he added.
When doing recycling for a business, he said he would go to the business to pick up the equipment. For individuals, he would prefer they come and drop off their items at his place.
Whatever Steve can’t recycle, he takes to a midlevel recycler, which in turn, takes what it can’t recycle to a larger company.
He can be reached at 573-324-7176. He normally works 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday. “But arrangements can be made,” he said, “if there is a need.”