HiTek Communications was started my freshman year in High School initially selling pagers. I started by selling pagers to my fellow news paper carriers pitching them to provide the pager number to their customers and ask the customer to call the pager and leave a message if their paper is damaged or missing avoiding the charge-back incurred against the carrier if the customer calls the Sacramento Bee. This was something I was doing already and I was able to get 30 carriers to sign up with paging service from me for 10.00 per month and my cost was 2.75 for local only coverage. I charged 15.00 for regional and my cost was 4.75 and 20.00 for national with a cost of 9.00 per month. Local was always the best because it was the fastest delivery given the tower didn’t have to queue up for a national broadcast. Pagers were one-way back in those days.
High School opened up a client base of 5000 students all hungry for pagers and I corned that market. I picked up almost 1000 clients the fist year and very quickly expanded into neighboring schools. At this point I opened up a kiosk in the Florin Mall and hired people to work for me. I also opened up a retail/office location on Watt Avenue in a strip mall area where I had the store front and started expanding into recrystallizing pagers.
Recrystallizing pagers would allow someone using a pager from one company to bring their pager over to your company. I would take the pager apart, remove the old crystal using a solder gun, replace it with the new crystal, tune the crystal, then activate the pager. I was able to to this all in about 15 to 20 minutes as oppose to someone waiting 2 weeks as all of us were sending the pagers back east to be recrystallized. This was my new revenue stream and opened up my first experience with business to business opportunities. You see, I was able to recrystallize a pager same day and it was taking a toll on the competition.
Bobby Baldwin – The Beeper Company (A Pacific Bell Subsidiary)
Bobby Baldwin the General Manager of the Beeper Company for Northern California came over to my Watt Ave shop ton inquire on how I was able to turn around pagers so quickly. She assumed I was just swapping out the guts of the pagers with crystals already on my frequencies. I brought her to the back and showed her my operation and how I recrystallized the pager myself, tuned it, test it, then gave it back to the client. Needless to say she was so impressed, she brought me over a few pagers and crystals on their frequencies to try. I did them all in about 1hr. A few days later she brought over 20 pagers and the amount just increased. I was so busy I had to hire someone to take this over as school was starting up and I couldn’t work full time at the store any longer. This was a cash cow and I enjoyed it. I charged 29.99 to recrystallize the pager and my cost was 4 to 8 dollars for the crystal netting a 20.00 dollar profit per pager not including the labor.
CellPhones – CellularOne & Airtouch Cellular
I eventually added Cellular Service my sophomore year to my thriving communication business and this was a great move. Teachers needed/wanted cellphones, and I was there on campus ready to fulfill their orders.
This business was a great success and I sold it off and moved to Seattle. The sale was in two parts. The paging business was sold to The Beeper Company, and the Cellular business and retails business was sold to a private party.
Seattle here I come!