Karl Terry: PNT Managing Editor
What Jimmie Shiner III lacks in experience and formal training, he says he overcompensates for in desire, tenacity and intuitiveness. Desire got the young man into business for himself, the tenacity has kept him going through his first year at Shiner Computer Repair.
Shiner was born in Chicago and moved to Portales about eight years ago with his parents. Family connections brought them to Portales and according to Shiner they’ve enjoyed living here.
Shiner attended Portales Public schools from fifth grade through junior high then he and his parents opted for homeschooling for him during high school. That was where he first started working on computers.
“I developed a knack for computers,” Shiner said. “It became my obsession.”
He was on the lookout for cast-off computers at garage sales and from friends and neighbors. He taught himself how to fix those machines through reading the manuals, researching at the library and browsing the Internet.
He started writing software as part of his homeschool work. His first assignment was to write a program to teach his sister math. He came up with a binary numbers (flash card) program he called Mathmatica. He wrote lots of other educational software helpful to parents homeschooling their children during his high school days. He also created his own game in Quick Basic and became the person all his friends and relatives called with computer problems.
“Long story short, people ask me … ‘Someone so young, where did you go to school, who did you apprentice under?’ I tell them Jesus was my teacher,” Shiner said.
At 19, Shiner worked full time at Factory Direct furniture store but when the opportunity came to get the building at 704 S. Ave. C, he says he immediately took the opportunity to go into business for himself in computer repair.
These days the 21-year-old still works full time outside his own business at Baca Electric. He works in computer service calls around his schedule and does shop work after-hours and on weekends.
Shiner specializes in general computer repair including software support and troubleshooting, hardware repair and debugging.
“Hardware is easy when it comes to computers,” Shiner said. “The challenging thing is software.”
Hardware repair, he says is a matter of opening the computer case up with a screwdriver and plugging and unplugging components to test or repair them. Software problems, he admits, can sometimes be frustrating and may even require studying up on a particular program to solve.
Shiner says the typical computer he sees is loaded up with viruses. Sometimes that can totally “sack” a computer, he said.
Shiner gets $25 for a service call and $10 an hour. If a machine is brought into his shop he will give customers a free estimate before repairing. The typical repair ranges from $40-100, he said.
He works on all brands including, Dell, Gateway, IMac and more. He doesn’t do printer repair because printers are so inexpensive it’s often cheaper to replace them.
As far as being in business at such a young age, Shiner says the hard part is the many hats he has to wear with a one-person operation. One minute he’s a technician, the next he’s an accountant, then he’s the janitor.
“You have to learn to be the master of time quickly or you’ll never make it,” Shiner said. “It’s one thing to have a dream. It’s another to work and have the patience to make it come true.”
For those interested in giving computer systems as a gift this holiday season, Shiner says the most important thing to do is assess what the computer will be used for.
“If you buy a really expensive computer and only use it for e-mail, you’ve wasted a lot of money,” Shiner said.
People can contact Shiner to customize and order a system specific to the needs of the person who will be using the computer.
For now Shiner Computer Repair doesn’t have regular store hours or a retail floor, something the owner wants to address in the future. Shiner asks customers to call 714-5603 to schedule service.