How does one say goodbye after fifteen years? In my case, I guess it starts with a brief history, a few memories and ends with a Douglas Adams quote.

It seems like yesterday that VAM started as a home-based business in a basement. It was 1996, long before the Internet was the bustling meet-up place it is now. My first job for VAM Computers was to change out a 486 SX33 motherboard and replace it with a sweet 486 DX2/66mhz. At the risk of digressing and to give you an idea of the advances we’ve seen in technology since then, that “upgraded computer” ran at 66 megahertz with 2 megabytes of memory and a 1 gigabyte hard drive. Most modern computers run at 3000+ megahertz, tend to have 6144 or more megs of ram and have hard drive storage capacity ranging starting at 1024 gigabytes. That machine was also running the DOS 6.22 (text based) operating system. Currently, machines are running the eighth generation of graphical interface Microsoft Operating systems.

Our first retail location opened in Shelburne in 1997 followed by a move to Orangeville in 1998. Orangeville was home for the FRAGtopia big LAN parties in 2000 and 2001, the sweet monthly LAN parties at the store for years. The store saw renovations, changes in staff, improvements in service, new product lines and 4 Reader’s Choice Awards in a row from 2008 to 2011. The times have changed and I wouldn’t trade the last 15 years for anything.

Once upon a time there were over half a dozen small computer stores in the Orangeville area and they’re all gone now except for two. VAM is by far the longest running computer store still serving local residents in Orangeville and surrounding areas. VAM has kept up with technology while maintaining the same dedicated focus on customer service.

I’ve worked with incredible people over the years and watched them go on to great things. Wonderful folks have stopped by to visit and chat at the store over the years, too. Many of those visits have turned into friendships and the fondest memories any business owner could ask for. It strikes me that of all the adventures we have in life, it’s our relationships that matter most. At VAM, a personable approach helped build and maintain our business relationships. Your stories and visits have made my having a business very meaningful and worthwhile.

Unlike many stores in this industry, VAM has always made a point of hiring only computer hobbyists who sincerely like to work on computers, are enthusiastic about the whole technology field and are happy to offer personal service. My team has made VAM Computers a place where people feel comfortable. We build trust based on customer service and in this world of uncaring big box stores, we’ve managed to make a positive difference, proving that a small business can indeed thrive and survive with public support. This is rare in technology retail. We appreciate our customers and look forward  to providing quality service for many more years!

All of that said, I’ve been offered a wonderful opportunity with a local company. As of November 11th of 2011, I am starting a full time IT job and will be leaving VAM Computers. It was an incredibly hard decision for me to make, but recent changes in my life, including a permanent move to Wasaga Beach, a marriage to an amazing woman (who I met at VAM Computers 10 years ago), make this latest change necessary. It’s going to be quite a transition for me, but I’m looking forward to the new job and an opportuinity to continue to grow and learn in my field, only in a different environment. I’ve been gradually replacing myself in different facets of the business over the last few years. Thus, VAM team members have become competent, proficient and able to take care of business as usual, including onsite service and web design.

While I will still own the store and will keep an eye on things, day to day operations will be managed by Bill Patterson and Victoria Ball.

Both Bill and Victoria have previous experience in the electronics and retail fields before joining VAM Computers. Bill worked with Bee Line Communications and Victoria managed stores for EB Games. Both of them are also computer hobbyists and gamers. They bring a lot to the business, including hard work and fresh new ideas. I have 100% confidence in their technical skills as well as their ability to serve the business with the same level of customer care, trust, honesty and momentum to build and maintain long term relationships in the way customers have come to expect.

I appreciate all of the support and trust from customers over the last 15 years. I look forward to seeing where my new team takes the store in the next 15. Almost half my adult life has been invested in building this buisiness and I’m proud of what has been accomplished so far. So, I leave my baby in good hands and trust our customers will continue to be pleased with our level of care and service.

In conclusion, I believe that Douglas Adams said it best: ‘So long, and thanks for all the fish’.

All the best,

Dave Kratky
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