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'We want to be a part of what’s happening here'

'We want to be a part of what’s happening here'

A pair of Rochester entrepreneurs are dialing up plans to grow their computer service business.

Mike Olson and Dirk McGrane, both military veterans, started Things Electronic in 2016 with the goal of being a “one-stop shop” for personal and commercial technical assistance. They now provide a range of services — from cybersecurity to equipment maintenance and repair.

“We take whatever our clients’ needs are, and make it happen,” says Dirk, a recent graduate of Winona State University-Rochester’s Computer Science program.

In less than two years, Things Electronic has taken on more than 400 jobs. Their scope of work has ranged from the large, such as working with Arby’s to upgrade their technology statewide, to the small, like assisting residential customers with their Internet security.

Looking ahead, they believe Rochester is the ideal place to expand their business, given the city’s continuous growth and the number of new companies starting up.

“We want to be a part of what’s happening here,” says Mike. “This is an untapped market.”

The duo says their key to success so far has been playing off each other’s strengths. Mike, for instance, specializes in networks and hardware installation. He’s a self-taught computer expert, whose interest in computers started as a child and stuck with him through his time in the Army National Guard. “I broke apart my first computer when I was 10 years, and just started playing with it.”

Dirk, on the other hand, focuses on coding and writing software. He says his time at WSU-Rochester was beneficial, not only because of the classes, but also because the school helped plug him into a network of like-minded students and faculty.

“Our business was founded after meeting in school,” says Dirk, a veteran of the U.S. Air Force. “We were introduced to important partners thanks to staff at WSU-Rochester, and we've found employees from within the student body. Business is often about who you know rather than what you know, and WSU-Rochester is full of good people to know.”

Asked what advice he would give to others looking to start their own business, Dirk says: “Business is about solving people's problems. Constantly develop your technological expertise so that you can provide solutions, but remember that the people are the most important element to your success.”

You can learn more about Things Electronic on their website.

This article is part of a collection of stories being published in partnership with Winona State University-Rochester.

Cover photo by William Forsman

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