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June 1, 2020

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Working in Clark County: Danny Tehrani, owner Computers Made Easy

By , Columbian Staff writer, news assistant
Published:
5 Photos
Danny Tehrani, engineer and CEO at Computers Made Easy Inc., started his business in 1995 after working for 12 years at Costco. "It took about seven years to fully let go of Costco in 2002," Tehrani said. "In 2004, I hired my first employee, Mike Schilpp. He's still with us. Back in the day, we were just helping a lot of home users. We evolved into a management service provider.
Danny Tehrani, engineer and CEO at Computers Made Easy Inc., started his business in 1995 after working for 12 years at Costco. "It took about seven years to fully let go of Costco in 2002," Tehrani said. "In 2004, I hired my first employee, Mike Schilpp. He's still with us. Back in the day, we were just helping a lot of home users. We evolved into a management service provider. We take over the entire IT (information technology) infrastructure of an entire company." (Amanda Cowan/The Columbian) Photo Gallery

Danny Tehrani started his career at a place that, as of late, has been unusually busy because of the COVID-19 pandemic: Costco.

And while he worked there for a dozen years, these days he’s doing something else that’s seeing an uptick during the pandemic: helping set up people to work from home. Tehrani, 49, owns Computers Made Easy Inc., a tech firm with a team of 18 employees located in a strip of businesses along Northeast Greenwood Drive, not far from Vancouver Mall.

Once the federal government on March 16 issued social-distancing guidelines that mandate avoiding groups of more than 10 people, many companies that hadn’t allowed work-from-home options were allowing. Now, Washington residents are enduring a stay-at-home order.

“That’s the bulk of our work right now,” Tehrani said. “We have about 3,200 computers that we are responsible for in Clark County and Portland, and other places like Seattle and Arizona. We’re responsible for every computer on the network, protecting them and ensuring the latest updates and everything from there.”

Anything with digits

At Costco, the nationwide chain popular for buying home goods in bulk, Tehrani started working the store’s computer section when he was 17 years old and a student at Fort Vancouver High School. By that point, he had already had quite a ride in life.

Computers Made Easy Inc.

7710 N.E. Greenwood Drive Suite 230, Vancouver.

www.computersmadeeasy.com

Revenue: Owner Danny Tehrani said the company earned about $3.5 million in 2019.

Number of employees: 18.

Bureau of Labor Statistics job outlook: The bureau tracks several different computer and information-related careers, but Tehrani said that “computer and information systems managers” best described what they do. Employment of people in that occupation is expected to grow 11 percent through 2028. “Demand for computer and information systems managers will grow as firms increasingly expand their business to digital platforms,” the bureau reports. The average hourly wage in the Portland metropolitan area is $64.72 per hour or $134,630 per year.

Danny and Mike’s work-from-home tips

 Wireless internet at home should be “up to snuff,” using a good router. Danny Tehrani said Google Nest Wi-Fi or an aftermarket router will help extend your connection to other areas of a home as well.

 Video-conference apps such as Zoom or Microsoft Teams work well to maintain a connection with your co-workers when you can’t be in person.

 Secure your computer if you step away and make sure it locks with a password.

 Having cloud file access such as Microsoft One Drive or Dropbox is a big a help. 

 Having a “reliable IT company with a solid game plan is a must.”

Update your computer’s operating system, whether it’s a Mac or PC; not doing so could be a security risk. “A lot of computers out there are still using Windows 7. Windows 7 is no longer supported so Microsoft doesn’t send out security patches anymore,” Tehrani said.

 Avoid lots of streaming during your work hours. “One of the issues we’re seeing after getting someone set up to work remotely is complaints on speed issues,” said Mike Schilpp, vice president of Computers Made Easy Inc. “People also have kids at home using Netflix and things in the background.” He suggests setting specific times for these types of activities so it doesn’t impact workflow. “No matter how many devices you have, your modem can only take so much. You have a pipe and there’s only so much water that can come through. So it just matters what kind of pipeline you have and what it can receive,” Schilpp said.

Tehrani fled his home country of Iran in 1984 when he was 14 years old, during the Iran-Iraq War. The Austria-based Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society helped Tehrani get to the United States.

“I went through that channel and became a U.S. citizen when I just turned 15. I did that by myself,” he said, adding that he grew up a Jewish Iranian. “I left my parents behind; my brothers were over here (in the U.S.). It took about a year to get here.”

The job at Costco would change his life forever. Already interested in technology, he gravitated to the store’s computer section.

“I have liked electronics since I was a kid,” he said. “I had an electronic watch. I was crazy about it. Anything that had digits on it. I loved it. So when I got into computers, it was like a dream come true.”

While computers were a new household item in the early 1990s, he would go to customers’ homes and set them up for them.

“I met a lot of businesspeople. While I set it up in their homes, I worked my way into their businesses,” Tehrani said, working independently on the side while still employed at Costco.

“I started my business in 1995. It took about seven years to fully let go of Costco in 2002,” Tehrani said. “In 2004, I hired my first employee, Mike Schilpp. He’s still with us. Back in the day, we were just helping a lot of home users. We evolved into a management service provider. We take over the entire IT (information technology) infrastructure of an entire company.”

Those 3,200 computers belong to “a couple hundred clients,” he said.

As the owner, Tehrani still maintains a very active role in the company, jumping between doing engineer work on computers to sales roles in attracting and retaining clients.

Work from home skyrockets

As the pandemic ensues, the number of those working remotely have skyrocketed, translating to many more requests for help for Computers Made Easy Inc.

There’s no official data out there for the in-the-moment numbers, but a 2017 report by the United StatesU.S. Census Bureau disclosed an increase of 4.2 million home-based workers between 2007 and 2010, or 13.4 million out of 142 million workers were working remotely.

WORKING IN CLARK COUNTY

Working in Clark County, a brief profile of interesting Clark County business owners or a worker in the public, private, or nonprofit sector. Send ideas to Lyndsey Hewitt: lyndsey.hewitt@columbian.com; fax 360-735-4598; phone 360-735-4550.

Of course, it’s not an option for all types of workers — mail delivery is still done in person; grocery workers must still be on site, among many other types of jobs.

“From our own experience, we’ve had people work remotely before but never full time. Now over half of our office is working from home,” said Schilpp, 38, Tehrani’s second in command, adding that they’ve actually observed a spike in productivity. They’re planning to reevaluate how they’ve historically handled employees working from home.

“I think it’s going to be a big eye-opener for the ones who really shied away from the tech until now,” Tehrani said.

Thriving in crisis

As for Tehrani, he’s seeing the pandemic as a welcome challenge professionally.

“You know, I’m great. I kind of thrive in crisis,” he said. “Obviously I don’t wish ill for anyone, but it’s a good opportunity for us to help our clients.”

And as for his tumultuous journey fleeing the war in Iran, he “wouldn’t want it any other way.”

He lives in Camas now, not far from his mother, who was eventually able to move to the United States too. Married for 24 years, he has two children, ages 20 and 18.

“I consider my life very lucky. What I went through, coming here from a third-world country — I wouldn’t have those opportunities that I have here,” he said. “I pray about that every day.”

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