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Meet Your Merchant: A tech revolution, brought to your door

Nick Coltrain
ncoltrain@nevadaappeal.com
Shannon Litz/Nevada Appeal
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J&S Digital Satellite started out without the “digital” part.

It was pure satellite installation back in 1996, with John Craig manning the store until his schoolteacher wife, Shiela, finished her day. Then, John Craig would start the installation work.

Fifteen years later and they have a crew working for them, with Shiela Craig manning the store full-time, and opened a Carson City location to complement their original Gardnerville location.

They’ve also expanded their services to include all manner of home and business technology installations, ranging from alarms to home automation, which allows smartphones to control all of a household’s electronics.

“Now, you can push a button on your iPhone or Android phone and turn off the alarm, light a path to the kitchen to set down the groceries and start the coffee, all with a push of a button,” said Chris Frueh, head of project management and system design for the company.

Those are all functions that J&S Digital Satellite sets up for its customers, he said, and with more frequency as the price of technology goes down. He said the down economy doesn’t hurt his business as much as it does others, as the tech companies are forced to sell for lower prices and customers spend more investing on staying home.

Frueh said that in the 11-odd years since he joined the company, “everything has changed drastically, just tremendous growth,” in home electronics, with some home theater setups trumping traditional movie theaters.

To showcase it, the company’s two locations have demo rooms with surround sound and 110-inch screens (though the one in Gardnerville was being remodeled last week).

Not that J&S Digital Satellite has abandoned the sector that gave it its start. Frueh’s computer even has an effigy labeled “cable” hanging from his computer monitor.

Shiela Craig said that since it is a distributor of DirecTV, her business is both a competitor and a client. It’s in the former role that she boasts that J&S’ all-local technicians provide superior service.

She said all of her business’ technicians are in-house, meaning they have more control than those who subcontract out the work. And since the workers are local, they have incentive to better serve their neighbors. She said her business’s dual role of being client and customer of DirecTV causes a lot of confusion among her customers, and she emphasized that people wanting service should call the local phone number.

“We are the local, and you need to call a local number to get that local service,” she said.

She said her service can save customers shipping and handling charges, and she said J&S can often give better deals than going through the national DirecTV service. Plus, she said, the local nature of it means her technicians will keep in touch with her clients to ensure proper service.