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  • Manny Crisostomo / mcrisostomo@sacbee.com

    Anthony Flansaas, a network engineer for PowerON, helps set up donated computers this month at the Roseville Public Library.

  • Cathie Anderson

Cathie Anderson: A Roseville pioneer's lesson: Geeks rule

Published: Saturday, Jun. 22, 2013 - 12:00 am | Page 1B
Last Modified: Monday, Jun. 24, 2013 - 9:34 am

After talking with Brent Kelley, who has quietly built a $20 million business over in Roseville, you'll wish that more kids wanted to be geeks.

Kelley is a pioneer in the reuse and recycling of computer equipment, and his PowerON Services Inc. routinely lands on Inc. magazine's list of the fastest-growing companies in the nation.

While he was studying history at Sierra College back in the early 1990s, he gained a reputation as the go-to guy if you needed to build a high-performance PC on the cheap.

"I'd have … older students that wanted a good computer but just didn't know how to put it together, the pricing and stuff," he explained. "You didn't have the Internet. … The access was pick up the phone and start talking to people."

Kelley also worked as a teaching assistant for several departments at Sierra, he said, but his real job was getting top-of-the-line computer systems for each department at deep discounts.

He went away to Oregon State University for his junior year and spent most of his time in the library, going through microfiche of every Yellow Pages in the United States to find small computer retailers.

"I made a database, and I called them," he said. "I just bought what one person had to sell and then sold it to someone (who needed it) because no one else had made that connection."

Essentially, Kelley still does a lot of that at PowerON, but he does it on a much larger scale for Apple Inc. and other Fortune 500 companies that need to find new homes for used or excess equipment.

PowerON does a lot more than recycling, though. It develops applications, handles logistics, finds markets for old equipment and more.

Kelley's team, led by marketing manager Lorie Steel, is currently creating a Mac Lab with 16 computers and desks worth roughly $12,000 for the Downtown Roseville Library, 225 Taylor St. Employees are donating their time to install the computers, create a secure network and teach classes. The lab will open to the public on Friday.

Changes at KFBK, Fox40

This report is being interrupted for a brief message on leadership changes at two of the Sacramento region's news stations: Fox40 KTXL and KFBK NewsRadio.

News director Brandon Mercer resigned Wednesday after five years at Fox40, and general manager Jerry Del Core told me that he's just begun the search for a replacement.

"We'll post it. We'll cast as wide a net as we can," said Del Core.

Over at KFBK, news director Zack Stein just completed his first week on duty. Stein comes to Sacramento from NBC News Radio in Washington, D.C. He's also worked in Orlando, Fla.; Madison, Wis.; and Cleveland.

"Everybody always thinks getting to the network is your goal when you're in radio," Stein said, "but I got to the network level and discovered that I really missed being part of a community."

New name, familiar faces

Antiques dealer Jaimie Little is making a comeback, this time teaming up with another veteran of the trade to launch The Ruralist over on 57th Street Antique Row in Sacramento.

The 62-year-old Little thought she had retired seven years ago to a quiet life in a turn-of-the-century Victorian in Jackson, but her husband, Gary Little, found it a bit too far removed from the antique row and his other real estate investments.

They returned in November, and Jaimie Little started looking for something to do. She ran into old friend Tom Kurch, and they funded The Ruralist at 855 57th St., Suite F.

The new business already has won the approval of antique dealer Barbara Bussey, owner of The Treasured Home in Fair Oaks. On her blog at www.the treasuredhome.com Bussey wrote: "This space is wonderfully displayed and well edited. There is a cohesive sense of order in the whole shop. Next time Tom goes on a buying trip, I am going to follow him at a reasonable, yet unnoticeable distance. I want to shop where he shops!"

Little said shoppers will find an eclectic mix that includes pottery, furniture and garden pieces.

Today from 10 a.m. to noon, Little and Kurch will welcome Greg Howes and Brian Fikes, co-owners of Two Flew the Coop, to talk about raising chickens in the backyard.

Call The Bee's Cathie Anderson, (916) 321-1193. Back columns, www.sacbee.com/anderson. Follow her on Twitter @cathiea_sacbee.

© Copyright The Sacramento Bee. All rights reserved.

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