The Computer Emergency Room team: (l.-r.) Co-owner Jamie Hess, KRATE store manager Josh Hess, co-owner Joe Hess, Bruce B. Downs store manager Alexandra Horne and Mirada store manager Joe Hess III. (Photos: Charmaine George)
The popular Gadgets Emergency Room has expanded to three locations and will soon add a fourth…and has a new name, too.
Brothers and co-owners Jamie Hess and Joe Hess, Jr., have owned a thriving business in upstate New York, called Computer Emergency Room, since 1991. When Jamie — who also owns Treble Makers Dueling Piano Bar & Restaurant — moved to Florida in 2018, the pair bought a local tech repair store in the Shoppes at New Tampa located just south and east of the corner of S.R. 56 and Bruce B. Downs (BBD) Blvd.
Now, they are merging the company’s Tampa-area locations with their New York-based business, bringing it all under one umbrella — as Computer Emergency Room.
“Along with changing our name to Computer Emergency Room, we’re expanding our business-to-business support division, doing network support, computer repair, cloud backup, remote monitoring – essentially all technical support,” Jamie says.
Jamie adds that whether a business is running high-end servers or just needs technical support for an individual workstation, Computer Emergency Room will come out on-site and provide the fix you need.
And, while the name is changing to reflect the emphasis on business services and to merge the brothers’ businesses, Jamie says the retail locations will continue offering the services local customers have come to depend upon.
For anyone who has a laptop that’s unusually slow, a tablet that stops working, or a phone screen that shatters, Computer Emergency Room can offer a quick fix — usually within hours — at a reasonable price.
Over the past year, new locations have opened at the KRATE at The Grove container park in Wesley Chapel and in the growing Mirada development in San Antonio. A fourth location — at the corner of Livingston Rd. and County Line Rd. in Lutz, where a new Publix just opened — is expected to open by the end of this year.
“Nothing will change at our retail locations,” Jamie explains. “All four locations will continue to offer all services.”
Additional technicians are being hired to support the expansion of the number of locations and the business services, and the company has branded vans on the road for technicians who support area businesses.
He says businesses can pay hourly, or sign up for a service contract that offers unlimited support. He says some contracts include weekly preventive maintenance, but most are on call, where businesses dial up Computer Emergency Room whenever they have a problem.
“This is something we’re currently doing,” Jamie says, “and we even go to homes to fix personal computers and connect networks.”
It’s A Family Affair
The family-owned business includes two stores managed by Joe’s sons. Joe Hess III manages the Mirada location, while Josh Hess (photo on next page)manages the KRATE store. Meanwhile, the BBD location is managed by Alex Horne, who has worked there for more than 10 years. While a manager has not yet been hired for the new location on Livingston, the Hesses expect to promote from within the company.
Jamie says they expect to expand to more locations, too, and are looking at opening stores in Tampa, Trinity, and even as far south as Bradenton.
And, while the business branches out, the Hess family remains firmly connected to the New Tampa and Wesley Chapel areas, with Jamie serving on the Board of Directors for the North Tampa Bay Chamber of Commerce, and they’re excited to have a Computer ER location in the trendy KRATE container park.
“We’re getting a lot of traffic at our KRATE location,” says Jamie. “KRATE is doing a nice job with events to get people there.”
In fact, that’s how Rich Bussey was first introduced to Computer Emergency Room.
He and his wife, Jenny, own Boba Macs Tea & Eat, a shop in the KRATEs located directly across from Computer Emergency Room.
“We were in the process of opening and our internet service provider didn’t install the line running into the building correctly,” Rich says. “I spent three weeks trying to get them to fix it, arguing back and forth, and going through a lot of finger pointing.”
Rich said it was a devastating blow. He and Jenny are first-time business owners, and also work full-time at other jobs, so a three-week delay was “crushing.”
Especially after Covid had pushed their dream business opening back, the Busseys were anxious to get up and running, but there was no way to open their store without a point of sale (POS) system, and that couldn’t be installed without internet.
One day in late August, Rich says the techs “across the way” at (then-Gadgets) Emergency Room offered to take a look at the wires Boba Macs’ service provider still hadn’t come out to assess.
“They immediately found the problem, fixed it, and my internet was up and running within minutes,” Rich says. “I was able to have someone come out that same day to set up my POS system that had been sitting there gathering dust for three weeks. I was mind blowing-ly impressed at how proactive they were at finding a solution and providing phenomenal service.”
Rich says that being in the service industry, he often finds himself having casual conversations with people, and occasionally that talk works its way around to someone’s frustrations with their phone, tablet or laptop.
“I always suggest they pop in across the way and let them take a look,” he says. “Those same people usually come back and thank me, saying they previously spent hours on the phone with their tech support and got nowhere, but spent five minutes over there and they fixed it.”
Computer Emergency Room (formerly Gadgets Emergency Room) has four locations. Its original shop, at 1750 Bruce B. Downs Blvd., and newest location at 30925 Mirada Blvd. in San Antonio, are both open Mon.-Fri.,10:30 a.m.-6:30 p.m., and 10 a.m.-3 p.m. on Saturdays. The Computer ER location at KRATE (5854 Goldview Pkwy.), is open Tues.-Fri., 8:30 a.m.-8 p.m., noon-6 p.m. on Saturday and noon-5 p.m. on Sunday. The new store will be opening at the corner of E. County Line Rd. and Livingston Ave. later this year.
For more information about any of the stores, call (813) 939-HELP (4357) or visit ComputerEmergencyRoom.com.