Repair firm rescues dying PCs in ambulances

If your laptop is ailing, this firm's computer doctors will race it to the ER, stat!

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911 for laptops 911 for laptops 911 for laptops
Repair firm PC911 dispatches technicians in scrubs and vegetable-oil-fueled ambulances to rescue dying computers.

(Fortune Small Business) -- When a computer takes a sick day, Chad Stone and PC911 can be at the door within hours. And if the patient is really dying, technicians will march it out to their ambulance on a gurney.

"It's kind of like we run a PC hospital from our ambulances," says Stone, 33. "Any problem we run across is not a big deal. The PC doctor is here with everything you need."

Stone launched PC911, his Las Vegas computer-repair business, in 2006 with just an old pickup and a toolbox. When he decided to upgrade his vehicle, Stone discovered that a decent truck would cost $14,000, but a used ambulance was only $2,100 on eBay (EBAY, Fortune 500). He bought one and made 911 his marketing gimmick. Sales calls doubled soon after he introduced the ambulance, with many new customers calling PC911 after seeing it parked at a neighbor's house.

"When we pull into some of the senior neighborhoods in Las Vegas, 15 to 20 people come running outside their doors," Stone says. "They're wondering, 'What's wrong with my neighbor?' Then I show them around the ambulance."

The emergency theme has proven so successful that he has hired 10 employees - all of whom wear scrubs to work - and revenue ballooned to $550,000 in 2007 from less than $50,000 the previous year.

Stone now dispatches a fleet of eight diesel ambulances, all of which run on veggie oil he recycles from local businesses. That conversion cost him an extra $1,200 a vehicle, but he says the investment pays off after filling the 25-gallon tank about 12 times.  To top of page

See PC911's medics in action in our photo gallery.

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