Computer wizard Andrew Haripersaud “It is a passion”

POSTED: 10/14/13 12:20 PM

St. Maarten / By Jason Lista – He is a wizard, of sorts. His magic, though, is in the realm of technology. His store in Cay Hill is aptly called The Wizards. What may baffle and frustrate the average computer user is a passion for Andrew Haripersaud, who fixes them. “It’s a passion. I would say it’s a passion,” he said as he smiled. That passion has become his profession.

He opened the door on Saturday afternoon after closing for the day, and went into his workshop in the back to discuss his business. He filed past an odd looking desktop computer that he built which is liquid cooled, complete with its own mini radiator.

His shop in the back is the prototypical computer repair place. The carcasses of disemboweled desktops and laptops awaiting much needed surgery stand on shelves. The surgeon’s tools are neatly hung, ready for quick access. He built all the shelves and the front counter himself.

He sat down and began to talk. “I always wanted to be a mechanic,” Haripersaud said as he leaned back a bit in his chair, reflecting. He liked to fix things since he was young, and fixing computers was always a hobby of his.

Although he is a Dutch national and grew up in the Netherlands, his story actually started in Guyana, where he was born. He had a Surinamese grandfather, which enabled him to migrate to Europe at the age of 5.

He went to Lagere Technische School (LTS) in the Netherlands where he was learning to fix cars and work with metal, but in between his second and third year an epiphany hit him. “Hey, all these greasy hands every night. This might not be too good if I ever get married,” he pondered. So he switched direction, took a yearlong computer course, and is now Microsoft certified. And he can work on Macs too.

After working on the island for a few years for a large electronics retailer, he took a big step and became an entrepreneur. “That was a big gamble,” he said as he grimaced a bit, remembering what it was like when he made the decision. Like many first time entrepreneurs, he was scared at first. “Definitely,” Haripersaud snickered. But he has a valuable skill set and built up a loyal customer base over time. “Computers,” he went on, “are something you can’t do without these days. I can fix them. There is a demand.”

He wisely prices himself based on competitors and, more importantly, what the market will reasonably bear. Most of his business is local, but increasingly he is getting work requests from visitors too. “I’m trying to approach hotels. I want to make it convenient for tourists who visit with their laptops,” he said.

When asked how he ended up in St. Maarten, and why he stayed, he laughed. “I came down on vacation. You know how it goes,” he grinned. “I fell in love, the blue skies, the blue ocean. Back in Holland it was cold and gray. The cold is terrible.” It was not difficult for him legally since he is a Dutch citizen. “I wouldn’t trade it for any other island or country,” he stated flat out.

But he does more than repair computers. He also provides on site services, where he will go to a client’s location and install or fix any computer issues. He also installs sound systems, and has surveillance equipment that he both sells and installs himself. He also does some work for French clients in the lowlands, who are in need of someone with his skills.

“I’m building up a reputation online,” he said proudly. On the website MAP SXM he has been receiving 5 star reviews because of his excellent service and friendly demeanor.

“I’m also in the solar business,” Haripersaud says. He is the distributor for a new type of solar panel with micro inverters, which do not require a larger inverter inside the house. They are safer than those currently used on the island too, he explained, because they do not amass a lot of voltage on the roof. Each panel does not exceed 220 volts.

He is an active and inventive man. He has currently designed a device that tracks the movement of the sun across the sky and automatically adjusts the solar panels, angling them so that they receive the maximum amount of sunlight possible. He has one installed above the roof of his shop and so far it has been working fine. And he will make them right here in St. Maarten.

He is also experimenting with batteries that are charged by the solar panels during the day and automatically power LED lights at night, helping people save on their electricity bills.

As for old and abandoned computers, Haripersaud fixes them as best he can, granting them new life and a new purpose by donating them to schools.

Like many businesses on the island, though, Haripersaud’s also has its ups and downs with the rhythm of the tourist season. When the hotels and restaurants are full and the ships are in town, more locals have disposable income and can afford to fix their electronic devices. In the low season, however, “they don’t spend it.”

“It’s a lot of dedication,” he said on the difference between working for someone and working for yourself, “you have to complete all your work. No one else will do it.” His advice to anyone who wants to become an entrepreneur was straightforward. “You have to be a die hard worker. You have to like to work. Then, you’re gonna make it.”

 

 

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