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Old friends open up new computer service center

The Daily Mining Gazette, Houghton
October 29, 2001

CALUMET, Mich. (AP) -- For two childhood friends, starting a new computer business allows them to combine their love of the region with their skills as technical wizards.

"We both really wanted to stay up here and we figured if we started a business, we could stay at home and at least make an attempt at a decent living," Daniel Johnson said.

Johnson and Philip Dlubala, both Laurium residents who met riding the bus to school when they were 7 years old, were looking for work that would keep them in the Keweenaw Peninsula. Together, they have opened Wizard Data Systems in Calumet.

The business, which celebrated its grand opening in August, offers services about anything computer related, including Web design, computer sales and repairs, upgrades, and networking.

These computer doctors can make house calls for repairs. Dlubala said it often comforts customers to have a technician troubleshoot a problem from their homes, besides being convenient.

"It gives them peace of mind to have someone come in and work on their computer," Dlubala said.

Johnson said the pair have talked about opening a business since high school. Dlubala and Johnson corresponded with each other while Johnson was still in the Navy in San Diego.

"We started toying with the idea," Johnson said. "It got to the point where I had only about six to nine months left. Finally, we said, 'Well, let's go ahead and do it."'

Dlubala worked for five years as a mechanic while Johnson served a stint in the Navy. Dlubala worked on developing Web pages and working on servers for a local Internet service provider.

Because of the new business, Johnson said he's been talking to people he hasn't seen since high school.

Dlubala said having a Calumet business allows customers in north Houghton and Keweenaw counties to obtain technical service.

"We knew we wanted to be in the Calumet or Laurium area," he said. "There's a lot of places in the Houghton where people can go to get their computers repaired. It's not a bad thing, but we just wanted someplace for the people that are local to be able to go and get their computers repaired."

Their technical expertise includes Dlubala's computer repair diploma and Microsoft FrontPage Web building certification. Johnson served as the computer systems manager on the ship he served on in San Diego and is certified on many computer networking protocols and services.

The business also can provide computer parts. Dlubala said there are enough spare parts for two computers available. If there is a part not on hand, it can often be delivered the next day.

The future seems bright for the young entrepreneurs. Johnson's wife is expecting a baby. Dlubala is continuing his studies at Michigan Tech University.

"It was never our intention to start to get rich," Dlubala said. "Our intention is to do the job that we like to do."

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Material from The Daily Mining Gazette © 2001-2004, Ogden News Publishing of Mich.