By K. Woodzick, Editor
If you’re having trouble with your tablet or computer, it might be time to call the nerds.
Daniel Lundquist and Neil Borden are lifelong friends. The pair met in elementary school and went on to work together in the IT department at Lakeland Union High School. Neil is currently a student at UW-Stout, studying Computer Networking and Information Technology, Computer Science and Information Security Management. Daniel is pursuing studies in Computer Support at Northcentral Technical College. He is a certified IT Support Specialist with experience working at Ascension Technologies.
Over Christmas break in 2020, the duo decided to start Northwoods Nerds. They considered many names for their new business. While working together in high school, they remembered a frequent visitor to the IT department who would wryly call them “a bunch of nerds.” Once they saw the “Northwoods Nerds” written down, they knew they had found a winning name.
“I wear being called a nerd as a badge of honor,” said Daniel.
While it may have been risky to start a new business during a pandemic, they have found that the influx of digital nomads and the increased amount of people able to work from home has worked in their favor. Once they work with one customer, the stellar word of mouth can quickly move through that same street or community.
“Our customer base has always been kind and up front,” Neil shared.
Sustainability is important to the pair. They work to recycle discarded computer components to keep the toxic materials from entering landfills. Most of their business consists of house calls from year-round Northwoods residents. Their services include computer repair, device tune-ups and malware removal, setting up smart devices within a home, and network analysis and hardening for businesses.
Sometimes customers are afraid to ask for help because they have had negative experiences with IT professionals in the past.
“We’re here to encourage technological literacy and self-sufficiency,” stated Daniel. “We reassure our customers that there are no stupid questions. Our job is to teach people.”
“Don’t be afraid to ask us anything,” added Neil.
While not repairing computers, these two young gentlemen play video games and role-playing games (or RPGs). In fact, they have fond memories of discussing new games after long days spent working in the high school IT department.
Neil spoke of how playing these games creates community saying, “It’s interactive and romantic—collective storytelling.”
“It’s escapism—a great way to unwind from the chaos of daily life,” added Daniel.
They take this passion for storytelling and connection on the job with them. The amount of joy and pride they take in their work is apparent. They smile when they share that whenever they pull up to a customer’s home, they usually are greeted with one of two phrases:
“Customers say, ‘It’s the nerds!’ or ‘The nerds are here!’”
K. Woodzick is a life-long theatre artist and has over a decade of experience as a non-profit marketing professional and writer. They live in Woodruff with their silver lab, River.