Thomas Dukeshire is sitting at a small metal table outside the Birdseye Diner waiting for a turkey and bacon wrap. Sipping coffee under a large umbrella, Dukeshire looks content. The bright yellow mug holding his coffee matches perfectly his button-down shirt and the sun, finally peaking out from behind the clouds, brightens the mood even more.
But if you ask around, Dukeshire usually manages to do that very thing all by himself.
Dukeshire, who’s 21 birthday is still a few weeks away, along with his 27-year-old business partner Christopher Cole, have just opened a new technology consulting and services business called Rural Techs on Main Street, less than a block from where he usually has lunch.
“Two Castleton grads, that’s all it is,” Dukeshire said in between sips of coffee. “Right across the street from the college.”
The two are, indeed, former Castleton students, with Dukeshire completing his program with a bachelor’s of science degree in computer information systems and business with a math minor and Cole having a B.S. in computer information systems as well.
They’ve worked together for about three years and both men decided to open the business because none like the one they had in mind existed in the area.
“There’s a hole in the industry here,” Dukeshire said.
Most places that offer the same services do so out of a home and work only with either businesses or residential customers. Rural Techs works with both, and out of an office, which Dukeshire feels makes a huge difference to customers.
“People seem to like being able to walk in a chat with somebody,” he said. “I like to explain to them why things work and it’s easier to do that in person.”
Along with helping out customers, the idea of being their own boss was appealing and another reason they partnered up.
“I like working for myself and being able to grow with a business that I created,” Cole said.
Rural Techs has only been open since June 1, but their list of satisfied customers is already growing.
One such customer, Mary Beth Hadeka, has had the men work on both her home computer and the computers used at her business, Hadeka Stone Company.
“I am thrilled to death that they are located in our community,” she said. “I’m probably going to be hooked up to them on a weekly basis. Because I’m spoiled.”
Another customer, Linda Elrick of West Rutland, had Dukeshire come to her home to help with the dreaded blue screen of death.
“I had called Dell and they were basically not a lot of help,” she said. “It was nice to have someone say ‘This is what happened and this is what I can do to fix it.”
“I’ll personally recommend him to all my friends,” Elrick said, laughing. “I told him that I would paint him like he walked on water.”
From their tiny office next to Special Effects salon, Dukeshire and Cole offer a number of services, many with lower prices than competitors.
From new computer consulting, (they go through the entire process of ordering a new computer for someone, from giving them quotes on machines that best fit their budget to delivering it to their house, completely set up) to working with local schools, Rural Techs hope to become the go-to place for the areas technology needs.
“One short term goal is to settle into the community and basically become a staple here,” Dukeshire said, headset firmly in place and ready for potential callers. “We want to be the technology consultants for this area.”
Both Dukeshire and Cole feel the stresses of opening a small business daily, and with Cole working a full-time job in addition to running Rural Techs with Dukeshire, the stress is sometimes double. But both men are taking things in stride and enjoying what they’ve both wanted to do for a long time.
“I’ve wanted to open my own business, since, I dunno, since I was a freshman in high school,” Dukeshire said, multitasking as he works on three computers at a time. “But it wasn’t a computer business. I wanted to open a restaurant.”
Like many of Rural Techs customers, local broker Aleda Dutton is happy he stuck with computers. When asked if she’d go back to have Dukeshire fix her computers again, her answer:
“Absolutely. He’s our computer guy.