By Anna Hanson
Photos by Paul Flessland
Anna Hanson, Sales Director – Bytespeed
Something of a hidden gem in the FM business community, Moorhead-based custom computer manufacturer Bytespeed has built a loyal, national client base with a emphasis on customer service and a more personal level of support than larger vendors.
Founded more than 15 years ago with a primary focus on building custom desktops for schools, the company has since expanded into network services, mobile, and gaming, and can count clients in finance, healthcare, and government, among others.
Join BytesSpeed Sales Director and Fargo INC! Editorial Advisory Board member Anna Hanson as she gives readers a tour of the company’s Main Avenue headquarters.
This area is a big part of our network services, which is newer to our group. We just started a few years ago doing more on the network side. Business has changed, and this has been a pretty exciting area for us. We’ve hired quite a few more engineers and are continuing to grow the customer base we have.
They’re already buying desktops from us and they’re already buying servers from us. So now we’re able to provide switching, wireless, cache appliances, and security appliances, which are more and more important.
This is our help-desk area. This is where systems come in and get repaired, and these guys are what we sell.
All the equipment is the same. What we sell is our help desk, what they’re doing and how they’re doing it. For us, the imaging is huge. We preload all needed software on our customers’ computers before they get them.
A lot of companies say customer service really matters, but there aren’t many places where you can come back to the same guy on the phone who’s been there for more than 10 years. So what you get is that consistency. People come to work for us and they stay. And you get to build relationships with them. So that piece in itself is huge.
We’ve gotten a lot of customers from competitors because when they called and had an issue, we took care of it. And with technology, it’s not a matter of if you’re going to have a problem, it’s a matter of when. And just knowing that the person on the other end of the line is going to take care of you is really nice.
Everything’s a commodity now in technology—PCs, servers, switching, wireless—and people are treating it like a commodity. They’re not providing that service. They just want to sell you the equipment and go away, and we stand for the opposite of that. We are about building relationships and being partners.
What we have here are actually desktops. They’re tiny, but that’s the new thing. This is a very popular case. We put tons of them in schools and hospitals. SCHEELS uses a case that looks just like this. It’s called a Mini-ITX.
We buy a lot of stuff with longer warranties so that when somebody calls in and says they have a bad stick of memory, we pay to ship it back here so that they don’t have to pay freight.
We send them an advance replacement part, the bad part comes to us, and we test it and then send it back off for warranty so that we can keep our overhead down. This batch here is on its way to West Virginia.
We’re really picky about the components we put in our computers because we’re going to put such long warranties on them.
Everything’s top-of-the-line, name brand—Intel, Kingston, Sea Gate. And all of our stuff is open architecture.
This is our warehouse. Because of the five-year warranty, we have to stock parts until the end of time. And then even after warranty is up, if somebody calls us and says, “I’m looking for this little cover,” we still want to support those machines. So we warehouse a ton. This is like Costco for techies.
Welcome to the gaming room!
I know I mentioned everything’s getting smaller, but our Gravity Gaming line is the exception to that rule.
This space gets used a lot by our employees—these guys even come in and have tournaments on the weekends—but also by people coming through on tours.
Gaming is something that’s relatively new for us, but it’s one of the only verticals that’s growing in our world and in crazy ways. There are now even scholarships out there for e-sports, and they’re airing it on ESPN.
We’re really promoting gaming clubs because there’s this section of student who is unattainable to schools right now. They’re not going to be in speech and drama, they’re not going to be on sports teams, but we can pull them into the fold and actually teach them really valuable life lessons in a K-12 environment through gaming clubs.
What I think is so amazing is that, to me and you, computers and smartphones are technology. But to my two-year-old, she’s been chewing on a smartphone since she was born. It’s nothing. So engaging students is harder than ever.
If you’re a teacher, you can’t stand up in front of somebody on a whiteboard and write notes. Kids are asleep in the back of the room. But if they’re playing a game to practice mathematics, they’re much more likely to remember it versus watching somebody else tell them how to do it.
We have two VR (virtual reality) stations. The Oculus Rift (left) and the HTC VIVE (right).
The Oculus is really promoted more in the classroom because you don’t need a lot of room for it, and the VIVE is more for a makerspace because it’s interactive. You can actually interact with your surroundings, but you need a 10-by-10-foot area so it kind of limits what your options are.
It’s the future of gaming, but we think it’s also the future of education. To think that you can take a kid who grew up in Fargo and they can go tour the Louvre while you’re discussing World War II. You can bring somebody back in time down a main street in the 1930s during the Great Depression. The opportunity for engagement is amazing.
There are people learning how to operate on virtual hearts, real estate agents are taking people on virtual tours of what their home will look like once it’s remodeled. There’s no end to what this technology means, and it’s fun to be a part of it.
Probably my main regret about the building is having an office right below our gym. It’s nice to have, though. It gets used quite a bit.
And as you can see, our president is an avid cyclist so we have the Tour de France stationary bike.
Something we’re very proud of is the fact that we actually run anything we sell. We like to put our money where our mouth is. If we’re going to sell a switch, we’re going to use it.
A lot of companies will sell anything and everything. Whereas, we pick what we think is best-of-breed and go with that product. And then we tell our customers, “If you want to switch products, we think this is the best and this is what you should use. If you want cameras, this is what we think you should use. If you want a server solution, use this.”
That way, we’re able to actually support the product that we’re selling and use it internally, too.
3131 24th Ave. S, Moorhead