By Starrla Cray
COKATO, MN Erik Haapala isn’t a Japanese warrior, but his computer repair business is built on honor, discipline, and morality the same code of ethics as a true samurai.
“I like the philosophy,” Haapala said, explaining that he is wholly committed to his clients’ satisfaction.
Computer Samurai opened an office at 105 Cokato St. W. (just off Highway 12) in Cokato Aug. 22, as a convenient way for people to bring in computers, laptops, and phones in need of service.
“We’re open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday though Friday, and by appointment,” Haapala said.
Technology has been a lifelong fascination for Haapala, who remembers his father purchasing a computer for word processing in the 1980s.
“I was 11 or 12 at the time,” Haapala recalled. “I’m in a unique generation I think. I was young enough when computers first started coming out, but it’s not like my son, and our grandsons, where it’s ubiquitous. . . . From the time I was a little kid, I liked taking things apart; I liked seeing how they worked and putting them back together.”
In 1999, Haapala graduated from the University of St. Thomas with a degree in business administration, focusing on entrepreneurial skills.
“So, I went to school to start businesses,” he said. “I’ve started and run small businesses pretty much my whole life.”
The first business Haapala founded was a lawn mowing company at age 9. As an adult, Haapala and his father operated an aviation consulting business for about 15 years.
In 2009, Haapala’s father was looking to cut back on work, and Haapala was ready for a new opportunity. Computer repair was a natural fit, as Haapala has been the IT person for each small business he has owned, and was the “go-to” computer advice person for friends and family.
At Computer Samurai, Haapala and his staff aim to explain computer terms in simple language, making it easy for non-technical people to understand service that may be needed. And, if it’s more cost-efficient to replace the computer, Haapala makes that known, as well.
“Not every computer is worth fixing,” he said.
Computer Samurai has built a strong client base in a 60-mile radius of Cokato, and the business is growing. In August, Haapala hired Lyle Pringnitz as a full-time technician. Pringnitz is a Cokato native who has been doing computer repair on the side for 30 years.
For more information about Computer Samurai, stop in the office in Cokato, email firstname.lastname@example.org, visit computer-samurai.com, or call (320) 334-2877. During normal business hours, phone messages are returned within one hour.