TCW History: November 2022

Thankful For Family

By Thelma Tippie

What would you do without family… I often wonder what The Computer Workshop would have looked like after 33 years had it not been for family – would I have had the vision and energy to last that long? Would I have grown to serve a national clientele? I may not know the answers to those questions, but I do know that I have thoroughly enjoyed having my family to work with every day! I always enjoy seeing the reaction of new employees when they find out that many of the managers are my children! Sometimes that takes months because when my children are in the office, they take on a different role than being just my children. :) So now that I have your curiosity about which family members you have been working with and didn’t know, let’s meet The Family.

The first to join the ‘family business’ was Terri Williams Davy. She is now our COO. She attended Appalachian State University as a business major wanting to work in Finance. After college, she was working in the banking industry and there was no indication that would change until she called one day with an idea of coming home and working for The Computer Workshop – her reasoning was all heart – she didn’t think it was fair for me to work hard building a business for the children to inherit. She wanted to help build that business. She started at the bottom and had to work in all areas from customer service to teaching. And of course, I was happy to give her the finance duties.

The second child recruit was David Williams. He is now Vice President and Training Director managing our instructors. As a teenager, he worked after school and weekends loading software on our machines – there were no networks at that time and hard drives were only about 20 mg. Some evenings would run into mornings for David because the software would crash and you would have to start over. He officially joined the company in 1995. Working his way from prepping classes to sales and teaching and within a short time was managing the newly opened Cleveland office. David is good at anything he sets his mind to, including developing our current CRM with assistance from a couple of our programming instructors, Ira and Andy. Who knows if his two sons will get involved at a later date.

The next one coming on board full-time was Kimberle (Kim) McFarland in 2004. Kim is now the Personnel Manager and oversees the administrative staff. She started out doing our accounting and is still actively involved with accounts receivable and payables. She prefers working ‘behind the scenes', but in the early years when we had a location in Circleville, she did teach a class for special needs kids. Her heart of gold made her a perfect candidate for this class! Her life has been dedicated to her family and for a short time, she ran her own daycare so she could be home with her son. Today, she does whatever is needed for the company from making sure our training center is in top shape for clients to event planning to taking care of personnel tasks to being an active part of corporate decisions – she is right there contributing to the overall success of the company, but she is still all about family and attends as many events for grandchildren and nephews as she can put in her hectic schedule.

At The Computer Workshop, the family doesn’t end with just my children. Over the years we have hired different family members for different reasons – some long-term, some short-term on their way to bigger and better things! Jennifer (Granddaughter) was just needing some part-time work while getting her own business started. Abbey (Daughter-in-law) has many talents, so we hired her to plan our 25th Anniversary party and to help with marketing as she transitioned from Cleveland to Columbus – she now works as a teacher in the Columbus Public Schools. Andrew (Nephew) helped with customer service while in college. Sean (Grandson) also worked after he got out of college on his way to a ‘real’ job! Nicole, (Granddaughter-in-law) worked while going to school part-time to become an engineer. Devon (Granddaughter-in-law), worked while looking for her first teaching position in Ohio after her move from North Carolina. Blake (Grandson) worked for us during college and after graduation, while he was looking for a full-time teaching job, he helped us in the classroom as well as with some administrative work. Then there is Barbara, my sister. She knew nothing about computers and wasn’t going to learn how to use them either – but she had lost her husband and I thought a job would help fill her time. Thinking she would stay just a few years, she has now been here over 10 years and she not only learned how to operate the computer and software she uses, but she would like to have 3 screens instead of just two! She is now 84 years old and has no signs of retirement! She does a wide variety of jobs in an Administrative Assistant position.

Of course, the family doesn’t stop there – we have given opportunities for new families to start. In the early years, we hired quite a few young singles and you would think that in a small company, there wouldn’t be a lot of opportunities to meet that special someone. But, if my memory serves me correctly, the following couples met at The Computer Workshop and ended up marrying: Colleen (Cheri’s Sister – Cheri has been here over 25 years!) & Steve, Jason and Angie, Amy and Bill, Lisa and Lee, Sara and Steve, and Sarah and John.

So, working for a family business is different in many ways, but if there is a fault that is also a benefit, it would be that many decisions are made from the heart, not from the bottom line of the bank account! That is not only true in who we hire and why we hire them, but also in the way we treat our clients. We do want to make a profit, that is the only way we grow, give raises and profit sharing, hire top-notch employees, etc. – but the difference is that we want to treat our clients like family and make decisions that will benefit them. We want to see them be successful and gain the skills and knowledge needed to improve their lives. It isn’t all about us, but about those we serve!

So, now I can answer my questions – if it had not been for all my family, I would not have made it 33+ years and served a national clientele. I am so happy to be the head of this dynamic caring company! We often get comments that there is something different about our place… maybe, just maybe, it is the way you are treated when you attend classes here!