Meet Your Merchant: Eyeing the new age at Tahoe Tech Group
Special to the Sun
What: Tahoe Tech Group
Location: 7081 North Lake Blvd. Tahoe Vista
TAHOE VISTA, Calif. — What’s in your wallet? For some of us, that question depends on what kind of wallet we are talking about.
For Ernie Dambach of the Tahoe Tech Group, it’s a virtual wallet, and it contains bitcoins.
Tahoe Tech Group not only takes care of computers and networks, the crew there has an eye toward the future and being on the forefront of the cutting edge of technology.
“We want to help people vision the future of Internet cash. Bitcoins are what the Internet was in 1992,” Dambach said.
Dambach was a techie before most of us even owned a home computer. He got his start in the tech industry the late ‘80s, during a time when Fortune 500 companies were just dabbling with the web.
“In the early ‘90s, everything was in an experimental learning phase,” Dambach said. “We were just exploring what companies could do with the World Wide Web.”
Dambach was living in Flagstaff, Ariz., when he started his business, “Flag Web,” in 1997. It was one of a only few businesses offering webcasting.
He was contracted by MTV to help them webcast concerts from the Ice House, an abandoned warehouse in Phoenix.
“At the time, the infrastructure didn’t not exist to bring enough bandwidth for live concerts. And for most users they didn’t have fast enough DSL for their Internet,” Dambach said. “I remember stringing wires for blocks. At one point during the concert the monitors fried and we couldn’t see if we were broadcasting or not but the laptop signal was still on so we assumed it was all working.”
BRINGING TECH TO TAHOE
Dambach sold his business in Arizona to Tech Knowledgy Systems Integration and remained with the company during the transition.
The company unfortunately went bankrupt during the dot.com bust, and Dambach moved to the Tahoe area in 2002.
That same year he started a business out of a garage behind the Donner Market in Truckee — and Tahoe Tech was born.
Tahoe Tech has been serving the North Tahoe area since 2003.
Now based in Tahoe Vista, the business has grown from not only providing home-based computer solutions, but setting up networks and infrastructure for commercial businesses.
“Our company remains on the forefront of technology,” Dambach said. “We’ve put in the wireless infrastructure from the Cal Neva Resort to Sunnyside Resort in order to get them broadband Internet.”
Dambach has been using Apple products since 1980, and he and his staff are well-versed in both PC- and Mac-based computer systems.
“Most companies and businesses are Windows-based, but Mac computers tend to be more user friendly,” he said. “They are geared toward non-tech humans — we call it the grandmother test.”
HOME AND BUSINESS
Tahoe Tech Group offers full support for personal needs for all devices, computers, phones, tablets and printers.
“We live in a world of disposable. Printers are less expensive, and when they break, they’re not worth fixing. In addition the ink is more expensive,” Dambach said. “If you spend 20-30 percent more on the initial purchase, the printer not only lasts longer but (they) are more able to be repaired.”
In addition, the company contracts with a number of home-owner associations in the area like Stillwater Cove and Brockway Springs.
“We wire and network all of the homes in the community and provide email services as well as wireless networks,” Dambach said. “We also install devices to turn our clients homes into a smart home. If you’ve been traveling and want to melt your driveway before you arrive home, you can turn on a device from the airport.”
The company also provides networking for a number of schools and businesses in the Tahoe area, and it provides IT services for both the North Tahoe and Tahoe City public utility districts.
BACK TO THE FUTURE
Thomas Craddock is a systems administrator for Tahoe Tech Group.
“I’m the chief hardware geek,” said Craddock while standing behind a large bank of computer monitors.
He points out a strange contraption: “This is a ‘Mining Rig,” he said.
The guys at Tahoe Tech built the space age looking machine.
“It mines bitcoins and vertcoins — both are Internet currencies,” Craddock said. “In this world, you are your own bank. Some nations are looking to regulate bitcoins, but for now, that’s not happening here.”
In addition to his staff, Dambach has two partners in the business — Carl Leblanc, who has been with the company for two and half years; and Brian Kruel, who became a third partner recently.
Dambach was an art major in college but fell in love with technology. His wife of nine years, Sara Smith, is an artist and was one of the driving forces behind the Detours Art Exhibit in Kings Beach. They have a son Asher who started second grade this year.
Priya Hutner is a freelance writer and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.