TAHOE VISTA, Calif. — The guys at Tahoe Tech admit to being geeks. With a statue of Hans Solo from Star Wars, a plethora of desktops, laptops, motherboards, and a constant flow of incoming IT questions, the office can attest as well.
“We like to think that we’re geeks who still have personalities,” said Carl LeBlanc. The guys at Tahoe Tech Group aim to encourage and never condescend to clients in regard to technology questions.
“One of our roles is to empower people and make them feel powerful with their technology,” Carl said.
Tahoe Tech Group runs information technology for many large companies around Truckee Tahoe including Tahoe City PUD, Sunnyside Restaurant and Lodge, and Martis Camp Family Barn. The team also runs mobile operations and in-house IT assistance. Carl said having six team members ensures when one employee is busy, “we pretty much always have an issue we can handle immediately.”
Owner Ernie Dambach calls himself a “serial entrepreneur.” The businessman started Tahoe Tech Group after a long string of businesses, such as a successful paper route as a teenager, a coffee shop in his 20s, and a web design company.
His experience with computers dates back to being 5-years-old in front of a main frame computer at his father’s job in Michigan. When the Dambachs bought an Apple 2 in 1980, Ernie’s fate was sealed.
“I showed my teachers and taught my teachers how to use computers in elementary school, junior high and high school,” Ernie remembers.
Carl’s story isn’t much different. When he broke his leg at age 15, his grandfather gave him a laptop to entertain himself during recovery: his future was laid out as well. The men say the combination of Ernie’s technical expertise and Carl’s business skills make for a great team.
PRIORITIZING THEIR SKILLS
Information technology is important, but Ernie said his group puts a few skills before creating virtual networks and security systems.
“Our number one skill is listening, our number two is patience and number three is tech knowledge, and in that order,” he said.
Tahoe Tech Group aims to bridge the gap between technology and user. The employees remove the burden of technology, ensuring businesses can focus on business or that individuals have the time to do the things they love.
“Technology is supposed to make lives easier, but it can become cumbersome when your free time becomes full of doing tech stuff,” Carl said. “Your business and quality of life suffer.”
Tahoe Tech Group also is about education, or “putting technology into plain language,” Ernie said. Creating analogies helps better explain IT so users can understand what technology can and can’t do.
Carl teaches an IT class at the Kings Beach Library called “Ask Carl,” where technology users may go in with questions and problems.
“It can be easy to forget that things that come easily to us may not come easily to others,” Carl said.
Tahoe Tech Group’s new location in Tahoe Vista has outstanding views of the lake. Their move from a 400-square-foot building without running water (Carl points out it was a great place to be during the recession) couldn’t keep up with growing business. The team operates now in a 1,400-square-foot office above Old Range Steakhouse.
“When people come in they say, ‘you guys must feel pretty lucky to be in a space like this,’” Carl said.
Learning to Turn Off
As much as the gang loves technology, they also agree that turning it off is just as important. Ernie recommends single — not multi — tasking, and turning off smart phone notifications that end up being distractions.
“It’s in Facebook’s best interest if you check in all the time — it’s not in yours,” Ernie said. “I don’t need to know at three o’clock on a Wednesday that my printer may be out of ink!”
Carl turned his phone completely off for five days during his honeymoon earlier this year.
“I told him if he answers his cell phone he’s fired,” Ernie said with a laugh.
And what is the one piece of technologies these techies can’t live without?
“My espresso machine,” Ernie said as he pulled up a high-resolution photo of the Italian-made machine. The model is after the first espresso machine ever made — Ernie had it imported from Italy.
Carl answers the question undoubtedly, “My stereo equipment.”
Carl said on his hard drive alone he has 250,000 songs.
Jenny Luna is a freelance reporter for the North Lake Tahoe Bonanza and Sierra Sun newspapers. She may be reached at email@example.com.
“Our number one skill is listening, our number two is patience and number three is tech knowledge, and in that order.”
Ernie Dambach, owner, Tahoe Tech Group