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More than just repairs

Tim Schacher repairs computers, sells Web hosting services and phone service as part of Lakes PC Help. He also develops video screen devices for fitness machines.

Tim Schacher's business doesn't look like much right now. In fact, there isn't a sign up yet to mark where Lakes PC Help is along Highland Drive just south of Highway 34 outside of Detroit Lakes.

However, just because the outside is modest doesn't mean there isn't a lot of activity going on inside.

Lakes PC Help describes what Schacher does to a 'T' -- he repairs computer systems.

The office is separate from his home, and that's just the way Schacher likes it.

"It's a lot better being out here," he said. "I'm a private person."

Schacher said that just fixing a broken computer isn't the key to his successful business.

"When you're in business, especially up here, it's important that you answer the phone," he said.

That means that Schacher is available wherever he is. Using Voice over IP for his phone service, incoming calls can be forwarded to any number around the world through a click of a mouse.

Lakes PC Help also offers Web hosting services. Schacher doesn't host his computer servers on site, but rents space in another state. The advantage of that is that Schacher doesn't have to worry about Internet connectivity or backup electricity in that arrangement.

The company that hosts his servers takes care of that.

Both the Web hosting and VOIP services are side ventures for Schacher. He said he sells those services because he uses them personally.

"It's run as a hobby for me," Schacher said.

The bread-and-butter business is still PC repair. And personal service has become more of a need for computer users as the larger PC makers are cutting back on support services.

Schacher said that most makers will fix hardware issues, but software problems are a little trickier to repair. The usual solution from the larger computer companies is to erase the data on a computer and restore it to factory condition.

"What do you do if you're a customer and your life is on the computer?" Schacher said. "All of your files are on it."

He added: "That's just a nightmare."

While not a part of Lakes PC Help, Schacher is developing a new product that has a unique niche.

Virtual Active is a product that equips fitness equipment with video screens. Those screens can be programmed with content provided by Virtual Active.

For instance, someone on a treadmill could follow a jogging path or those on a stationary bike can follow a mountain bike trail.

The role that Schacher plays with Virtual Active is programming the software used to control the devices.

"Clubs can program it to display anything they want," Schacher said.

The programming aspect is something that Schacher can do from any location, so it doesn't take away from his time in Detroit Lakes.

"For me it doesn't make any difference, because the programming is done over the Internet" he said.

With the economy tanking, Schacher understand that this is a make-or-break time for Virtual Active.

"It's definitely a luxury item," he said.

Lakes PC Help can be reached by calling 847-5049.