Tony Maurice Jackson was 22 when he landed a job as a technician at Arlington Computers, LLC in Arlington, Tenn. The year was 2007. Within a few months, the owner, Michael McDonald, offered Jackson a partnership.
Jackson had been looking for a job and possibly a career, but McDonald's offer fueled his desire to become an entrepreneur. So when a friendship between Jackson and McDonald became evident, Jackson convinced McDonald that he could help grow the business.
The economy was tanking and three other computer stores in the area were forced to close their doors. But Arlington Computers was increasing its customer base and its nearest competitor, also located in Arlington, continued selling software, designing apps and developing websites.
McDonald would soon grow tired of holding the business together, Jackson said. "Mike and I had agreed that the computer business was changing. He wanted to kick back, but I wanted to take the company in a different direction."
So, in 2012, Jackson bought out McDonald's interest and continued steering Arlington Computers through the rough economy,
Now, at age 29, Jackson and three certified technicians are poised to take Arlington Computers to another level. It is the go-to place for computer sales, in-store and onsite computer and laptop repairs, he said, including virus removal, data recovery and LCD screen repair. The company even repairs phones and I-pads.
The customer base, Jackson estimates, is at least 75 percent residential and 25 percent business. Many are repeat customers he knows by name.
"We greet them with a hug and a smile," he said.
Offering what he terms quality service and affordable prices, Jackson says, "We really do care about our customers. ...We have a friendly customer-business relationship. And as long as our customers support us, we'll definitely support our customers."
Customers who live and work in Arlington file steadily through the doors. Just as many come from other cities throughout Shelby County, and as far away as Earle, Ark., said Jackson.
He's also repairing computers remotely for a number of customers in the military.
"Our reputation is spreading," he said. "And that's because we are always willing to go the extra mile to serve and help people. It's about integrity. It's about trust. And we have a lot of both to go around. That's why we're succeeding."
Jackson is endeared in the Arlington community of nearly 12,000 residents. With a thriving business environment that supports the city's tax base, it is located approximately 20 miles from Memphis.
First opened in 2006, Arlington Computers is located in Arlington Shops at 11613 Hwy. 70 and Airline Rd. The store is stocked with computer products and robust signage is evident inside and above the façade. A computer mascot named "Harry" beckons customers inside.
Jackson gives back to the community. He's awarded his customers with tickets to the circus, monster truck shows and basketball games at FedExForum featuring the University of Memphis, the Memphis Grizzlies and the Harlem Globetrotters.
"Back in the day we had a sign up to promote the business. But now we're going all the way with TV advertising to increase traffic," Jackson said. "It's one of the ways we stay visible and on the minds of people."
Visibility, he pointed out, is the key to staying afloat during a sluggish economy. "We are more visible now than we've ever been. We're using social media as well and getting more involved in the community.
"Even though we're making headway in the community in terms of visibility, we are looking forward to increasing our bottom line," he said. "We want to make money of course, but it's good business sense to keep the customer happy."
What's next for Jackson?
"I would like to retire at 40 and leave a legacy for my family," said Jackson, an avid churchman who married the former Monica Rutherford in 2007. They have a 7-month-old son named Brennan.
"Of course, I'll always be doing something after retiring."
(Arlington Computers, LLC open Monday-Friday from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. The telephone number is 901-867-9262. The website address is www.arlingtontncomputers.com.)