For this week’s #ShopFranklin Spotlight, I sat down with Ed Szymanski, the PC Handyman!
No matter what your computer needs happen to be, the PC Handyman can handle them. Ed named his business after the work he used to do as a home handyman, since his approach to computer work is similar; “it’s a little bit of everything that people need.” From repairs and parts replacement to installation and configuration, Ed serves individuals and small businesses in the Franklin area both on the road and from his home workshop. When you first contact Ed, he will discuss with you whether a house call or a workshop visit makes more sense, based on what you need. According to Ed, he can be “more efficient working here in the shop time-wise” for something like a virus removal, “which means more efficient with people’s money.”
Ed also specializes in “problems that aren’t easily solved,” even to the point where other businesses have tried and failed to fix the problem. Although difficult computer issues can sometimes take more time to solve than Ed is willing to charge his client for, he would rather put in the extra time to solve the problem than to give the computer back unfixed. While Ed’s background is in mechanical engineering, his computer skills were developed through years of maintaining the network at his former company and helping other users with their computer issues. In 2002, when his employer relocated, Ed worked on computer repairs “here and there” and eventually developed that skill into his own full-time business.
Ed loves working from home, not only because it gives him the flexibility to work with clients on the road when needed, but also because he can work around his outdoor schedule. Contrary to the popular perception that computer guys don’t ever go outside, Ed is an avid gardener and homesteader. Ed and his wife “started with a small garden and just grew and grew,” and at this point they “have no grass.” Ed’s front yard produces fruits, vegetables, berries, and flowers, and in the back he has twenty-five raised garden beds and other garden areas, including several nut trees. Ed and his wife grow a little bit of everything, and produce just about all of what they need. Ed also raises bees and chickens, and currently serves as the president of the Norfolk County Beekeepers’ Association. Ed’s advice for anyone interested in keeping backyard bees or chickens is to learn all you can about caring for them so that you can do a good job, since “it’s a lot more fun when everybody’s healthy.”
Ed says that homesteaders tend to talk to each other and get to know each other, and share tips and advice at farmers’ markets and other local gatherings. Lately, that way of life has been spilling over into Ed’s business as well. As a small business owner, Ed has become increasingly involved in business networking groups and efforts like the #ShopFranklin initiative. “I didn’t know how much it would benefit a business like mine but it turns out that it really is because you’re reaching a lot more people,” Ed says. Word of mouth is one of the best ways to advertise, and Ed works hard to connect with others, not only to receive referrals but also to give them. “I believe that when you help other people with getting business and doing things for their business then they are going to help you in return.”
Since starting the PC Handyman, Ed has found that the Town of Franklin has been especially friendly to small businesses, and he appreciates that it has retained its community, small-town feeling despite its accessibility to the big cities. Franklin is large enough to have a thriving business community, but not so large that there are too many competing businesses; Ed can succeed here as the “computer guy that makes house calls,” and when clients come to Ed’s workshop, they get to know him on a more personal level. “When people see the regular guy things that I’m doing they tend to remember me and they come back, and to also add to that the fact that I actually can fix their computers… it all works.”
The PC Handyman is located at 529 Pleasant Street – check out Ed’s website here!