Computer Improvements Is All About Service | June 2016
By Maria Landry
When Mark LeBlanc and his father, Martin, first opened the doors of their Water Street business, Computer Improvements, Windows 95 was cutting-edge technology, complete with the first Start menu the world had ever seen.
The year was 1996, and Martin LeBlanc had been involved in a carpentry accident that left him paralyzed from the neck down and compelled him to look for a new career. Peter Smith was looking to sell his home-based computer business, and it caught the senior LeBlanc’s eye.
“[My father] got me into it,” said Mark LeBlanc from his office in the back of the store he has owned solely since his father passed away in 2000. “He asked if I wanted to take a computer class with him. I was his trainer and assistant.”
At the time, Mark LeBlanc was working in property management in Portland. “I didn’t have any interest [in computers],” he said—but he and his father soon became experts as well as business partners.
Now Windows 95 is technology nostalgia and Computer Improvements is a full-service business that builds custom computers; sells new and used desktops and laptops, computer parts, and commercial-grade security cameras; installs networks and servers; and repairs computers including removing viruses, spyware, and other malware. LeBlanc has a couple of technicians on the road three days a week, servicing computers and networks in homes and businesses.
Despite staggering advances in the computer industry and Computer Improvements’ steady growth over the past two decades, one thing has remained constant: LeBlanc’s emphasis on customer service.
“Customer support,” LeBlanc said quickly when asked about his secret to success. “We’re always trying to take care of the customer.”
That ethic has not gone unnoticed. According to Market Surveys of America, Computer Improvements has been voted number one in sales and service in the Skowhegan area every year since 2002.
In fact, LeBlanc and his crew—including three technicians and longtime office manager Amanda White—go beyond serving the customer to serving the greater Skowhegan community.
“We try to do what we can,” LeBlanc said modestly when asked about his dedication to community service.
Last fall he and his team initiated a food drive that collected more than 250 pounds of food just in time for Thanksgiving. This spring LeBlanc donated a laptop to the Main Street Skowhegan Savings Entrepreneur Challenge, and in the past he’s donated computers and equipment to Tech Spot, a Skowhegan collaborative where students and volunteers assist community members who need help with technology.
LeBlanc has also helped special-needs students from Madison High School by providing experiential learning opportunities that give kids work experience as well as class credit. His current project is a community events window at his storefront, where community members can find information on local happenings.
It’s not just the customers and community members who benefit from the generous atmosphere at Computer Improvements. In an era when the tenure of employees in their 20s and 30s averages less than three years per job, Amanda White has been working at Computer Improvements since she was in high school and is happily celebrating her 18th anniversary with the company this year.
“I came in to help [Martin LeBlanc] file,” she said with a smile, “and I just never went away.”
Luckily for Skowhegan, it doesn’t look like Computer Improvements is going away anytime soon either.