Schrock Innovations was recently featured in the Midlands Business Journal for our work on Secure Updater and our plans to branch our web development services into a separate division called Schrock Interactive. Here is a transcript of the article:
Almost two and a half years ago, Lincoln-based Schrock Innovations Computer Co. was on the verge of opening its Omaha store and was just beginning to lay the groundwork for its Papillion Service Center. Now the company’s newest two metro locations are experiencing triple-digit growth, and CEO Thor Schrock and his staff have still made time to spin off Web design/consulting services into a separate division — Schrock Interactive.
The company is also rolling out a program that bridges the “gap” between outdated software and anti-virus protection, as leadership explores bringing to the marketplace what, at first glance, sounds like the stuff of science fiction: 3-D printing.
“We’ve been looking for a way to do something different with our computer line, something to complement our lines,” Schrock said, when walking through a potential partnership that could result in their driving printers that can make three-dimensional, solid objects from a digital model.
The aforementioned lines for the business that got its start in the capital city almost 15 years ago, include more “standard fare” for a computer company — like on-site and in-shop computer repair, data recovery and visual help desk services — but, as evidenced, the firm hasn’t been afraid to be the first when it comes to new lines and products.
“Our growth is really tied to two critical things: One is systems and planning… and the second thing is product innovations,” Schrock said, noting that the latter wasn’t as present two and a half years ago as it is now, indicating that he has delegated tasks to team members as a means of seeing the forest through the trees.
To its innovation, Schrock said his business was the first in the state to offer Windows XP, for example, and now it’s among the first companies to tout what’s called Secure Updater, described as helping to bridge the gap between one’s outdated software and anti-virus protection by “silently updating” key applications on the customer’s computer.
“We developed a new system to keep our customers’ computers safe,” he explained. “It’s a program that monitors 26 of the most commonly downloaded software programs.”
Such common programs span the likes of Firefox, Google Chrome and Dropbox, and the need for such a solution, according to Schrock, was in direct response to what he called a new “threat vector” that involved a widespread breach and prompted U.S. security officials to suggest users disable Java.
Importantly, Schrock said that if he had his “head in the weeds,” so to speak, trying to “fix” viruses, he wouldn’t have had that “aerial shot” to see the big picture problem necessitating the development of what is now a fast-growing product — with 20 of 25 customers approaching his team with concerns over infections, whereas the normal rate of suspect computer infections might be three of every 25 customers.
In another nod to its focus on solutions that will give Schrock Innovations a competitive edge, as opposed to getting caught up in the data to day, the CEO said they’re splitting the Web design portion of the business into a separate division — Schrock Interactive.
Schrock highlighted that to be able to design an effective site, one has to get to know the business.
As an example of its partnerships on this front, Schrock discussed how it was suggested that a local bankruptcy firm offer a free consultation on the Web to help get people through the door.
The consumer could type in responses in various fields (i.e. debts, assets), with the form submitted online and returning a review that would cover just about any scenario possible, with the important actionable item attached to it to encourage face-to-face attorney consultation: “Contact us within seven business days, and we’ll give you a 20 percent discount on the fees.”
Considering the cost of more, perhaps, traditional types of advertising that may not be as effective in bringing clients to the door, Schrock indicated the owner, who was formerly sheepish about leveraging the Web in this manner, warmed up to this new approach.
New products may be one way to vividly see how the business has grown, but its growth is also represented by its three locations: its most “mature” service center at the southeast corner of 27th and Pin Lake in Lincoln, its Omaha Service Center near the heart of the Village Pointe shopping center at Village Pointe South and its newest offering — they Papillion Service Center located near the busy intersection of 72nd and Highway 370.
“When we opened the Omaha location, the primary marketing we had was our radio show on 1110 KFAB,” Schrock said, referring to “Compute This!” whereby he answers calls and emails from listeners with computer questions on the weekend. “It was a ‘controlled experiment in expansion.’
“We had never really attempted to replicate the success we’ve had in Lincoln on the same scale.”
Yet, while its Lincoln store has matured to the point where it has customers who come to them for every computer need (with, less frequently, new customers) these locations were all about attracting new clients to the Schrock brand of computer consultation — with some “cannibalization” of clients, he noted, from the West Omaha store to the Papillion store when it opened as he said the newest location was getting customers from new areas like Bellevue and Council Bluffs.
And, while Schrock noted they have weekly meetings to discuss items 9such as why a $150 sale might have been lost), it’s hard to, as he put it, “nitpick” when the locations are up 100% year-on-year.
This is after what he had called a “slow start” in the market, with coupons available to new customers offering a free first hour on repairs to get individuals through the door.
“It’s paying off in the long run, as our clients go back with their fixed computers and lead their friends and family to come in,” he said.
While Schrock hinted at another store to come, he also said he was “prohibited by marital fiat” from opening another location in 2013, joking that his wife had essentially said if he valued his marriage he wouldn’t expand the business this year.
“We tripled the six of the company in two years,” he said, indicating the challenge of two new centers in quick succession while nurturing its pioneering location in Lincoln.
He also indicated that, instead of opening another location, the team has been able to focus on its processes, such as instructing staff to handle situations whereby Schrock himself might have put out the fires in the past, as staff members have the authority and tools to do so and more efficiently solve problems self-reliantly.