A Small Business Success Started With CompTIA A+

Learn about how Joshua Wragg went from struggling as a tech novice to owning his own tech support firm; a rising success he credits to CompTIA A+.

When a customer comes to NexusTech looking for help, president and owner Joshua Wragg has a method for making him or her a customer for life. The three-person, Florida-based company has a two-step process for analyzing issues:

1. Identify the most probable cause.

2. Apply the most logical solution.

This highly-effective approach is one that Wragg has arrived at over decades of working in IT. When he got his start in the industry many years ago, though, his approach was not quite as organized.

It was the days of dial-up Internet; a time when a tech support professional needed to have a strong command of a wide range of information, from Hayes dialing commands to TCP/IP settings, communication programs to COM ports. At the time, Wragg knew about none of these things. But he was answering tech-support calls nonetheless, sometimes leaving callers screaming louder than the screeching connect tones of their modems. Wragg was in a sink-or-swim job and he was not swimming.

Wragg, then 19-years-old, had been making a living painting houses for a construction company in Oregon. He had no computer skills, formal or otherwise, when he moved to California and his older brother, who was already working in the world of IT, got him involved in tech support. Early on, his method for solving problems was not the most effective. He would put a caller on hold and ask the people working around him for help answering the caller’s question. At best, he was not helping anyone. At worst, he was creating more work.

One day, Wragg’s brother had a talk with him.

“It was a quick conversation,” said Wragg. “Basically, it was him sitting me down and saying, ‘If you’re going to continue doing this job, we need you to be functional at this job. If you want to stay in this industry you’re going to have to get certified.’“

Wragg took the advice to heart. He got started learning how computers and operating systems worked and got his CompTIA A+ certification.

Soon Wragg moved into a new job doing PC support, and there met a few more mentors who would help guide him and who continued to drive home the importance of an organized approach. His co-worker Nate Prince helped him take his understanding of how networks function to the next level. His immediate supervisor, Ted Ng, helped him hone his troubleshooting skills. Kory Washburn, his boss higher up in the company, taught him the importance of managing customers and personalities—that fixing computers can be as personal as it is technical.

By 2002, Wragg had taken these valuable lessons with him to a local church school, where he took on the role of network administrator; managing everything from the150 computers in the classrooms to the IT budget. In 2004, he hit the road again, heading to Florida and partnering with his brother, a church elder and the elder’s son-in-law to found a company called IT Associates. Despite holding certifications, Wragg had no formal degree, and around this time got his bachelor’s degree. In 2009, Wragg struck out completely on his own and founded NexusTech.

Going door-to-door to promote NexusTech at first, Wragg began to build a client base that continues to grow.

Today, the highly-organized way in which he approaches both technology and small-business ownership is the exact opposite of the approach he took as a young person answering tech support calls. He is a vocal advocate of three things he sees as vital to success in the tech arena—hands-on experience, education and certification.

CompTIA A+ certification is, in fact, a requirement for anyone who works at NexusTech.

“Certification refines your reasoning and your deductive ability when you’re troubleshooting, so you’re not just guessing,” Wragg said.

Walking his employees through the whys of their troubleshooting processes and requiring that they get certified, he mentors them in much same way he was mentored throughout his career. In doing so, he imparts valuable wisdom about the right way to approach computers.

“People look at us and say, ‘Oh you guys have magic. You have some sort of mojo to fix problems,” Wragg said. “After going through CompTIA A+, I realized that computers are organized, structured pieces of equipment. All you’re doing is solving the problem of how it got unorganized. To people, it looks like chaos. For us, we’re just looking for where the breakdown is and fixing it.”

Matthew Stern is a freelance writer based in Chicago.

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