Alex Garcia wasn’t sure what he was getting into when he signed up for Sampson Community College’s Early College High School a few years ago. Coming out of middle school, he didn’t want to give up the friends he saw every day in the hallways, but he knew that being on the college campus would expose him to opportunities he might not have otherwise known about.
“I was interested in computers and technology,” Garcia says. “While I was taking high school classes here, I also began taking classes toward my degree in Information Technology. While in school, I began working for a company repairing iPhones, iPads, computers and other devices.”
Garcia was nervous handling customer iPhones because of all the valuable information contained on the phones that they were counting on him to recover and repair. ”SCC helped me by introducing me into computers in a safe environment and teach me what those parts are, what they do, and how to replace them,” says Garcia. “They also helped me into finding what exactly I wanted to do in life. Thanks to practicing on the job and earning my degree in the field, it motivated me to start my own business!”
PHOTO: Garcia talks about some of his services to a student at the college’s recent job fair.
That’s how EZ Geek was born. Garcia, upon finishing his studies at SCC, launched his own phone and computer repair business at 1305 Sunset Avenue, just up the road from the college. It is one of the few places where phones can be repaired locally without sending them off to a repair shop or driving far away to get the job done.
“Let’s face it, it’s not easy starting your own business most times,” says Bart Rice, Director of the Small Business Center at SCC. “People come to me all the time with a dream or an interest, but you also have to have a strategic plan. You must have persistence. You have to have courage, particularly for someone who is coming right out of school and wanting to do a startup business.”
Garcia says he gave up lots of time and lots of money when practicing his craft. Breaking phones and then fixing them became his self-assigned homework. “The pleasure I get more than any financial consideration is handing someone back their phone, that was broken, and seeing the look on their face of sheer relief that everything is back to normal,” he admits.
Toledo Kemmer, the college’s Career Specialist, who takes great pleasure in seeing students becoming employees—or in this case, a business owner. She was making the rounds in the community, placing fliers in businesses about a networking event when she first noticed EZ Geek, a business she had not visited before. “I went in to check it out, to place a flier,” says Kemmer.
“Once inside, I heard Alex’s story and how he was a former SCC IT student who had started the business. When I heard this, I just knew his story should be shared to encourage others.”
Of course, Kemmer wasn’t about to let the magnitude of her discovery slip by. She immediately thought of Garcia when she recently hosted a job fair on campus and couldn’t wait to invite him. “What better way to come full circle than to give students here a chance to meet Alex, hear his story and show them that they can do it too,” she said.
Alex was more than happy to set up shop in the center of the job fair and show off EZ Geek to the public. ”My advice to other students based on where i am right now is to not be afraid to take risks and not giving up,” he says. “I took a huge risk setting up a business and it played out really well. I’ve broken, fixed, and lost a lot of money before I got to where I am but I haven’t given up in building the future I want, wherever it takes me.” To speak to Alex about his story, contact him at 910.592.0212.