ST. ALBANS CITY –– When Ruel McLamb originally opened Reboot Computers in 2011 he had 150 square feet of space above the Subway shop here, on Main Street.
Before that, he was in his living room.
Last fall, Ruel, 46, of St. Albans, moved Reboot Computers to its current site on North Main Street: a 900-square-foot, ground-level storefront. Reboot Computers has a new sign, more exposure and more foot traffic.
“The difference has been huge since I’ve been here,” Ruel said.
Ruel is a Microsoft-registered Refurbisher who offers a wide range of computer services for PC owners, including: virus removal, diagnostics, parts replacement, consultation, and custom builds. Ruel said he offers strong warranties, and he pushes free antivirus programs; he has links to some on his Web site.
“There’s no need to spend hundreds of dollars on an antivirus program that does the same thing as a free version,” Ruel said. “I’m really into helping people save money.”
Recycling is also part of Ruel’s business philosophy, which is evident by the logo he designed for his business card: an atom with continuous inner circles. He prefers to help customers recycle and reuse their computers and devices, instead of continuously discard and purchase new ones.
“Technology has become so much cheaper, that we’ve become a throwaway society,” Ruel said.
Ruel charges by the project, not the hour, and he lives walking distance from Reboot Computers, so he walks there – and everywhere. He does not make house calls.
“Otherwise, I’d have to charge more, and I don’t want to charge people more,” he explained. “Here (at the store), I have everything I need to do my work.”
Ruel was born in Springfield, Mass. His parents moved to Vermont in 1976. “I consider myself a true Vermonter,” he said.
Ruel graduated from Middlebury High School in 1987 and moved to Burlington in 1994. He moved to Grand Isle five years ago and then to St. Albans in 2011.
Ruel worked in the construction field for 15 years – five of those for himself.
“I wanted to get out of it,” he said. “I wanted to do something with my brain instead of my back.”
In 2001, Ruel started educating himself on everything computers. Soon, he was fielding requests for troubleshooting help from friends and neighbors.
In 2009, Ruel started working for Recycle North, via AmeriCorps. His aforementioned living room became a center for honing his computer skills, and building a customer base.
Ruel said he is “not looking to get rich” off Reboot Computers, or grow the business to be large and highly commercial. He would settle for a few employees and a way to introduce his own brand of PCs built in Vermont – manufactured and maintained locally, with the Reboot Computers logo.
“And I always want to keep people happy with my customer service,” Ruel said.