About us

Growing and Changing With the Retail Industry Since 1989.

 

It's Been An Exciting Journey To Get Where We Are Today.

 

It All Started With A Layoff And A Commitment To The Customer.

Washburn Computer Group began as a broker of point-of-sale peripherals and parts, buying from and selling to dealers, maintenance companies and other point-of-sale brokers. Much like today, Washburn started when a large computer dealer eliminated its POS department. One of the sales representatives, operating out of his home, continued serving his existing POS customers.

 

Finally, We Were Big Enough To Move Out Of The House.

In 1991, Washburn was large enough to move to a three-room suite in St. Louis Park, Minnesota. At that point, some of the equipment we purchased didn’t work and had to be repaired. The broken equipment started to pileup. It was taking up way too much room.

 

If You Have A Lot Of Broken POS Equipment, You Better Fix It.

We saw an opportunity to repair some of the equipment we purchased for resale. When we purchase it, the price was right but it was broken. We could have sold it for parts but it was worth much more to our customers and us if it was working. That launched our repair business. After we fixed our broken equipment, we started to repair equipment for our customers, other brokers, and maintenance companies.

 

More People, More Equipment, Three Rooms Was Not Enough Space.

The repair service grew quickly; and, in 1994, we moved into a warehouse in St. Louis Park. We now had 5000 sq. ft. We officially opened our repair center focusing on IBM POS peripherals. We repaired IBM printers, displays, keyboards, cash drawers, scanner/scales, handheld scanners, and the base units or computers that controlled all of the peripherals.

 

More Space Meant There Was Room To Hire More Technicians.

As the POS business grew, we hired more technicians and expanded our repair services to other manufacturers: NCR, PSC, and Symbol equipment. We also expanded from just repairing the equipment to actually repairing the circuit boards in the equipment. We were now a board-level repair center.

 

More People, More Equipment, We Were Out Of Room Again.

In 1996, we doubled our space to 10,000 sq. ft. for our 20 employees. As the repair of equipment that Washburn understood grew, our customers wanted us to repair some of their equipment we were not that familiar with. Being a yes company, we said, “Sure, we can do that”. Once again, our customers drove us into new and exciting areas.

 

Not Only Did Our Customers Want Their Equipment To Work, They Wanted To Look Good.

With more room, in addition to repairing equipment, we started completely refurbishing it and making it look like new. We would clean the equipment, make cosmetic repairs, and paint it, if necessary; and, then, test and guarantee the equipment.

 

Oh By The Way, They Wanted Us To Help Make The Install Go Easier.

As our customer’s needs grew, we expanded our services to include installation staging. We would setup and test all of a store’s equipment before it was shipped to the installation location. We would even acquire the hardware to meet the customer specifications and set it up to make sure it was working. We would then give our customers remote access to their equipment to load and test the software.

 

Since We Were Testing Equipment By Lane, We Could Pack It By Lane?

After everything was setup and tested, we packed the equipment by lane and shipped it directly to the store for installation. The whole idea was to decrease the cost and skill required to install the equipment. Since each lane was packed in its own box, someone with relatively little technical skill could unpack the box and follow the instructions to install, connect and test all the equipment for a lane as a system.

 

In Addition To Getting Good At Fixing More POS Equipment, We Were Getting Good At Moving.

In 2006, it was time to move again. We moved to Monticello, Minnesota to our own building. We now had 32,000 sq. ft. for our 45 employees and our entire inventory. The building was originally set up for manufacturing so it took a lot of work to get it all cleaned up for repairing electronics. After six months of working after hours and long weekends, we were ready to move in. This gave use the room to add more manufacturers like Cisco, Dell and HP.

 

When You Have Your Own Building, You Can Design It The Way You Want.

We laid out our new building in the shape of a horseshoe. This allowed us to receive equipment on one leg of the horseshoe, move it through cleaning to repair at the back of the horseshoe. After it was repaired, it was moved down the other leg of the horseshoe through quality inspection, packing, labeling and finally shipping. Our entire inventory was right in the middle giving us easy access for both repair and sales. The repair center itself grew from 2500sq. ft. to over 10,000 sq. ft.

 

The Smarter You Get, The More High Tech Equipment You Need.

We added advanced equipment to our repair center to aid in the repair of increasingly complex boards. We acquired an x-ray machine to allow us to troubleshoot and verify good solder connections. We added a thermal imaging camera to identify defective component's on the circuit boards. We also added BGA (Ball Grid Array) machines so we could repair BGA integrated circuits on the latest circuit boards.

 

One Way To Keep All Those Techs Busy, Create A Sales Department.

We reorganized a need and added a sales department. We could have different people focus on the specific needs of our customers. One group could find and supply equipment while the other group could focus on repair and our warehouse staff could support both. At the same time, we started repairing the servers from IBM, HP and Dell. We also added more manufacturers like Radiant.

 

We Were Ready To Call On POS End-Users.

In 2008, in addition to repairing for dealers and other brokers, we started working directly with some end-users, individual chain stores. Our focus is in retail, grocery, and the hospitality industry.

 

Customers Want And Need Status At Night And On Weekends.

In 2010, in an effort to give our customers better access to the progress of their repair orders, we created a customized customer website. The website allows our customers to enter their own repair orders and track the status of those orders. Each website is tailored to the customers needs making it as easy to use as possible for their employees.

 

All That Customer Data On Old Hard Drives Became A Problem.

We also added a hard drive shredder to meet the security needs of our customers by destroying the hard drives from computers and copiers to HIPPA, FACTA and DOD recommendations. After shredding, there is no way retrieve the information. The shredder destroys other electronic equipment that contains sensitive customer information such as magnetic stripe (credit card) readers. Yes, all those magnetic card readers can contain all sorts of customer information.

 


Customers Don’t Want Just Parts They Need A Total Solution.

In 2010, we started to provide total solutions to our customers. As customers were expanding or replacing their installed equipment, they needed additional help. Instead of just installing complete systems, they started adding different types of peripherals to their current base units. They were also installing new base units and wanted to keep and integrate all of their current devices. They needed help with the integration of the whole system. We were no longer dealing with the individual components of a point-of-sale system. We could design and integrate a complete system with different hardware and software, if necessary.

 

When You Have A Large Inventory You Need An Inventory Control System.

In 2011, we implemented a new inventory control system called Fishbowl to track our orders and inventory. We also formed a team to study our internal business processes looking for ways to improve and streamline our work as we implemented the new system.

 

Sometimes You Have To Make Your Own Repair Parts.

In addition to making the repairs, we are looking for ways to improve on our repairs. We work with local manufactures to make replacement parts that will last longer or perform better. We also started sourcing replacement thermal print heads for IBM, NCR, and Epson receipt printers. Our refurbished printers are now as good as new or better.

 

One Way To Figure Out What The Customer Wants Is To Ask.

We continue to focus on what our customers really need by focusing on what we can do as a centralized repair facility to reduce their costs and improve the uptime of their point-of-sale operations. As an example, we are working with a shipping company that already makes daily deliveries to one of our customers. We are trying to figure out a way to include our point-of-sale equipment shipments in those daily deliveries, eliminating the need of separate shipments. That will both reduce costs and the hassle of coordinating shipping, if it is in the container it will go.

Thanks for taking the time to consider us.

 

We Repair, Sell, Exchange and Buy