After 19 years in the computer business, Rick Bombaci of Enterprise is calling it quits.
On Jan. 2, 2003, his Blue Mountain Computer business will officially change ownership to Jan and Lorraine Swift of Wallowa. The name and location will remain the same, and the Swifts hope to assume most of the client base Bombaci has accrued over the years, but the longtime owner will be gone.
Bombaci, 47, began his business in November of 1983 while teaching business and computers at Enterprise High School. After teaching from 1982-1986 he found the dual roles too time consuming and elected to go full time into a computer business which has ebbed and flowed through the ensuing years. At its peak in 1989 Blue Mountain Computer was comprised of the Enterprise business, a large storefront in La Grande and a sales office in Portland. At that time there were eight persons on the payroll.
At present Bombaci employs only "Girl Friday" Kari Carper in Enterprise and has closed the other outlets. Carper will make the transition with the new owners, with Jan Swift replacing Bombaci as the primary computer specialist in the business and Lorraine Swift remaining in Wallowa to manage the couple's Wallowa Valley Stay N Wash business.
A staff accountant at the Enterprise firm of Edison, Hurley & Co. for the past five years, Jan Swift has a long history with computer work including 13 years while employed with the Coos Bay/North Bend Water Board, which at that time from 1978 to 1991 was the largest water board on the Oregon coast. Working as a computer programmer, data processor, supervisor and finally as office manager, Jan Swift found himself supervising the efforts, many of them computer efforts, of fourteen people.
Jan Swift says that he has enjoyed and learned much at his tenure with Edison, Hurley & Co., but feels the desire to become self employed.
While Bombaci says he will not miss crawling under other people's desks to fix computers, Swift says he relishes the task.
The Swifts moved to Wallowa in 1992 when they purchased the business now called Wallowa Valley Stay N Wash. The RV segment of the business has been expanded from four sites to 17.
"Nearly 20 years in the computer business is enough for me," said Bombaci. "I'm tired. I don't know what my next job is going to be, but I'm not going to fix other people's computers."
Raised in Connecticut, the creator of Blue Mountain Computer moved to Wallowa County in 1980. He had first moved west to Portland but, an avid hiker, soon discovered the scenic beauty of Wallowa County and relocated in Enterprise.
Computers have evolved a long ways since the two gentlemen began working in the field. Bombaci remembers when he sold a computer with 64 kilobytes (not megabytes) of RAM with a text-only screen and two 5" floppy disk drives for over $2,000.
With sales competition like Wal-Mart, Jan Swift does not foresee the sale of computers as his main source of income. He anticipates primarily generating income from the service and maintenance end of the business. He is proficient in several brands of software and, with his accounting background, can lend assistance to an array of private and business interests. He also will continue with a number of bookkeeping clients and, he says, probably in time assume some more.
To ensure a smooth transition from one owner to the next , Bombaci says that he will remain on call for the next year to help with problems which might arise. "Every installation has its own quirks and history," he says.
"I feel very, very comfortable that Jan is going to do a great job," says Rick Bombaci.