For 15 years, Cody Lawson has been running his own computer repair company in Central City. But if you ask him, he isn’t running a computer company at all.
“We’re not tech support; we’re people support,” Lawson said. “It all goes back to the customer experience and making sure they’re taken care of.”
Owner of 1to1 Technologies, Lawson began his career in 2008 when administrators at Central City High School, which he attended, encouraged students to find a summer job. Rather than bussing tables or harvesting crops, Lawson took his $15 allowance and purchased an ad in The Central City Republican-Nonpareil, advertising that he could repair computers.
He picked up a few customers that summer. The next summer, he gained a few more. By the time he graduated, “My parents were pretty upset with me because I had computers everywhere in the house,” he said. He rented an office space on the Lincoln Highway in Central City and founded Cody’s Computer Repair Service.
Now rebranded as 1to1 Technologies, the company is in a newly remodeled building, with six employees and a second location opening in Omaha later this year.
Doris Lux, an eCoach with Rural Prosperity Nebraska’s eCommunities entrepreneurship program, has witnessed Lawson’s 15-year journey. As an eCoach, Lux helps individuals start their own businesses, from ideation to ribbon cutting. She also works with Nebraska cities to foster an entrepreneurial environment through the eCommunities program, which helps communities identify, collect and cultivate resources that encourage entrepreneurship. The guiding principle for the program is, “What does success look like for you?”
“I’ve essentially been his mentor from day one,” Lux said. “Our relationship now is, he has ideas or he has a problem, and he bounces them off of me, and I’ll say, ‘Have you thought about this or that?’
“We talk about what ideas would work for his business. He has always wanted to own his own building. He was very close to going in with another business, but we put the numbers together, and the numbers just didn’t work out. If business is a little slow, I’ll say, ‘Have you thought about doing a promotion?’ I don’t get specific. I just give him ideas. Then he comes up with the specifics and takes off with it.”
Lawson said Lux is not just a coach, but an accountability partner. “She comes in, has you set your goals, and the next time she comes in, you know she’s going to talk about those goals and see how far you’ve come along.”
That mentor/mentee dynamic has been the first key contributor to 1to1’s growth, including the new location opening in Omaha, which will be staffed by an employee of five years and focus on helping many of 1to1’s business clients. In addition, Lux helped Lawson navigate the creation of a subscription service that is now offered to customers, as well as a rebranding effort that captures both the tech-centered and people-focused philosophy of 1to1. When customers walk into the store, they are welcomed by a décor of color-changing LEDs and wall coverings of microgreens.
The second key contributor, Lawson said, has been the community.
Shortly after moving into the new location, a pipe burst, flooding the building. Not only did Lawson lose a lot of supplies, but the building needed some renovations. Immediately, neighbors and Central City residents came to help clean up, rip out floors and throw out ruined furniture. The business reopened three days later.
That, Lawson said, really showed him the importance of community. Even when a nearby, larger city approached Lawson about moving locations, Lawson turned the offer down.
“Our customers are the ones that have supported us, and we’re going to support them 100% of the way,” he said. “I want a place where people come in, and my primary focus is to make that the very best part of their day.”