Computing a career: Stevensville business owner ponders life after retirement

Fred Wolf, owner of PC Services in Stevensville, is retiring after nearly two decades as owner of the business. (Don Campbell | HP Staff)

Fred Wolf, owner of PC Services in Stevensville, is retiring after nearly two decades as owner of the business. (Don Campbell | HP Staff)

By Tony Wittkowski | Business Reporter | The Herald-Palladium

STEVENSVILLE — As the owner of PC Services Computer Solutions, Fred Wolf made a difficult decision a month ago.

Known around the Stevensville area as a man with a knack for understanding microprocessors, Wolf plans to retire on Aug. 31. While he can’t recall how long he has been running his own business – his best guess is 17 or 18 years – Wolf is sure of how thankful he is for his clientele. Before starting PC Services, Wolf worked at an electronics store for about 15 years.

He’s always been handy. As a teenager, he remembered fixing a neighbor’s radio and charging a couple bucks. He started in radio and television in the early days when computers weren’t readily available. After moving to the region 42 years ago from Bangor to attend Lake Michigan College, Wolf made this area his home.

The Benton Harbor resident said he chose to retire at the end of August – not just to mark his 66th birthday – but because he felt it was time to move on.

With his business sold and ready for the new owner to take over Sept. 1, Wolf sat down with Herald Palladium Staff Writer Tony Wittkowski to discuss his professional life and what it will be like to step away.

Are you a Mac or PC guy?

We’re a PC shop, but I prefer PCs because I have to. The majority of the businesses that we support are PC based and so are the applications they use.

Tell me a little bit about your job. What is your daily routine?

Some days it’s glamorous, some days it’s pretty mundane. That’s what I love about the job, it’s never the same thing two days in a row. I can get a phone call that Mrs. Jones gets strange things popping up on her screen and I can go fight a trojan (horse) or some other malware that was installed. On the other end, we’ve got networks that when PCs are down, lives are at risk. When they call, we are there to make it right.

What’s the hardest challenge you’ve faced?

An intermittent. It’s something where the customer calls and we show up and everything is working fine. They are probably the most difficult and challenging to make them right. A good example would be if I’m working and all of a sudden my screen goes black and then it comes back. It’s annoying and it messes up productivity.

How has your work changed since you first picked up a mouse?

The technology is ever-evolving. When I first started the business, we were still doing MS-Dos based PCs. Now we are anxiously waiting Windows 10 arrival. The intelligence of the PCs have remarkably changed. Before you had to know more technical information. Now things are more automatic to install applications.

What did a lot of your customers say when they found out you would be retiring?

That I couldn’t do it and that I had to stay here forever. Most of my customers are my friends. That’s probably what distinguishes PC Services from most other companies. The people that run these companies know me by first name and probably my children as well.

What do you think you’ll miss the most?

Probably the support response. That’s something I prided myself on. When they would call, we would take care of them. They had that satisfaction of knowing they would be taken care of. I would like to thank all my customers for their friendship and support. I’m extremely blessed to live in this community and have that kind of support.

Contact Tony Wittkowski at twittkowski@thehp.com or (269) 932-0358. Follow him on Twitter @tonywittkowski.

(Author’s Note: This article was originally published on Aug. 17, 2015)

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