Family history culminates in computer shop
Nevada Appeal News Service
GARDNERVILLE – Sunridge resident Derek Degenhart, 36, has opened a computer service shop in the same space in downtown Gardnerville where his grandfather once operated a paint store.
The location, 1402 Highway 395, Suite A, “is the same location that my grandfather started his paint shop over 50 years ago, next to Mac Signs, which used to be the Purple Bottle, which my grandmother owned,” Degenhart wrote in a brief family history. “Suffice to say, my family has a rich background in Nevada and in the Valley.”
The story behind Degenhart’s Carson Valley Computer, which opened in August, starts with grandparents Chuck and Wilma Mathews who homesteaded the Juniper Valley Ranch east of Johnson Lane more than half a century ago.
“My grandmother, 85, still lives on the homestead in Juniper Valley,” Degenhart said. “There is still no running water, there is a generator, but a ranch hand has to bring her water the same way she’s been doing it for 60 years.”
Parents Ludwig Degenhart, a German immigrant, and Tamily Degenhart, a 1963 graduate of Douglas County High School, raised Derek and his siblings on the Sunrise Ranch in Johnson Lane, which Ludwig had built in 1969.
“Originally, it was a 30-acre parcel,” Degenhart said. “Now, there’s about 12 acres left.”
After graduating from Douglas High School in 1992, Degenhart went to the National Institute of Technology in Texas to study electronics and computer engineering. His career ended up taking him to Colorado, where he worked as assistant administrator for the nonprofit group Junior Achievement, and then later to Indiana.
About five years ago, Degenhart moved back to Douglas County and began working as a technician for a local computer service company. He said the company was great, but he still had the urge to be his own boss.
“It was always a dream of mine to start a business here in the Valley,” he said. “And that’s what I decided to do, to do it on my own.”
Carson Valley Computer offers repair, maintenance, upgrades, spyware/virus removal, data recovery, networking, cabling and on-site service for both business and residential customers.
With a family of his own, Degenhart now has a one-year lease on his grandfather’s old storefront, and he plans to hire another technician, besides himself, and a receptionist in the next year. While he offers used and custom-built computers, he wants to offer more retail in the future.
“I was worried the first few months that it was going to be tough, but it really hasn’t, because I’ve thrown my heart and soul into this,” he said. “As far as I’m concerned, there is no recession. The recession is what you make of it. My opinion is that I can refuse to be part of the recession. Hard work and smart work are what get you going and make you successful.”
Degenhart’s willful optimism, however, doesn’t mean that he’s had an easy ride. Rather, he said he’s had to systematically build a brand new customer base through word-of-mouth and persistent marketing.
“When it comes to businesses, they have to have their computers running,” he said. “Even somebody communicating with their family through e-mail – if their computer goes down, it has to be fixed.”
Degenhart said about 80 percent of his work involves traveling. While he tries to stay in the Valley, he’s willing to travel to Carson City, Dayton and Lake Tahoe, as well as to Topaz Lake and Alpine County.
“I’m more mobile than anything else,” he said. “This office is where I’m based right now for the next year. We’ll see how things go.”
Located at 1402 Highway 395, Suite A, Carson Valley Computer is open from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.
For more information, call 392-1027.