By BUILDER Magazine Staff. Few small builders have the budget to hire a full-time computer geek. So tending the technology usually falls on whoever is most comfortable with it. That's what happened to Matt Lee, a partner in Teton Heritage Builders, a custom builder in Jackson Hole, Wyo., with 50 employees. "I'm fairly interested in technology and fairly computer literate," says Lee, whose company issues laptops to field supervisors. But since the same didn't hold for the company's other employees, he became the IT department by default. "I was on call all the time," he remembers. "It got to the point where I could no longer do my normal job."
Lee tried outsourcing the work to a part-time tech. But at $75 per hour, it got too expensive. Then, two and a half years ago he heard about Everdream, a Freemont, Calif., company that leases computing services. For $159 per month ($219 for a laptop), Lee gets a three-year lease on a new computer, along with unlimited, 24-hour technical support, and nightly online data backup.
What sold Lee was the tech support. "If there's a problem," he says, "they can literally take control of your machine remotely. You can go to lunch, and when you come back the problem is solved." Everdream's Gary Griffiths points out that his technicians can't take control of a customer's machine without the customer authorizing it. "Our security is such that a client has to physically allow Everdream to take control," says Griffiths.
Wyoming builder Matt Lee was overwhelmed helping his employees with computer glitches before the company began leasing computer services, which provides 24-hour technical support. Each evening, Teton's data gets compressed into a zip file, then sent, via the Internet, to a mirrored server farm--a backup that has proved its value. "A couple of times in the past, we had a hard drive go bad," recalls Lee. "An employee would have to spend weeks reconstructing things." Now, if there's a problem that can't be fixed remotely, Everdream simply sends a new computer loaded with all of Teton's programs, data, and settings.
Of course leasing several machines can add up to a hefty monthly bill. "It did seem a little steep at first," says Lee of the monthly charge. "But then I looked into what it would cost to recreate the tech support and nightly backups." In the end, he thought it well worth the price.