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Started Out of Frat House, Firm Becomes Tech Leader

At the turn of the decade, Zachary Schuler, president and CEO of computer network and services firm, Cal Net Technology Group, was just 25 years old. But despite his youth, Schuler had managed to rapidly expand his company, growing revenues from $50,000 in 1997 to approximately $500,000 in 2000. But Cal Net’s explosive growth didn’t stop there, thanks to his natural-born entrepreneurial skills and diligent focus on customer service, Cal Net’s revenues are projected to crack the $5 million barrier for 2005. The genesis of the company dates back to Schuler’s days as a computer salesman at a local Circuit City while he attended California State University, Northridge. But nearly every time he sold a computer, the buyer would offer to pay for him to install it, a feature that Circuit City didn’t offer. “It got to a point where I had so many customers that I started a business from my fraternity house. In two and a half years, I had over 500 customers. All I needed was a computer, a phone line and a car,” Schuler said. This fledgling business ultimately provided the foundation for Cal Net. After graduating from college, Schuler quickly became a Microsoft certified computer technician. Then approximately seven years ago, Schuler informed his clients that he was moving into the business networking and technical support field. The newly re-focused business took off and Schuler soon expanded the company, without any outside financial aid. “We started in the small business market catering to companies of 50 PC’s or less. Over the past three years, we’ve expanded into the medium enterprise market, though we continue to have a large small business practice,” Schuler said. Judy Diamond, a Cal Net client and the manager of corporate computer systems for Encino-based Mann Theatres Corp. attested to the quality of customer service that Cal Net provided for her firm. “They’ve been amazingly helpful for our company. They are young, energetic and excited about everything,” Diamond said. “They have great ideas and everyone at the company is wonderful. Zack is always accessible and if he’s not there our consultant is available at any time. We know that we’ll always get help when we need it.” A natural-born entrepreneur, the now 30-year old Schuler is hard-pressed to find any obstacles that have gotten in his way. Although, he confesses that managing much older professionals was difficult at first. “When we began, I had an older sales guy that worked for me and whenever we walked into a meeting he’d always get uncomfortable saying that I was the president because I was so young looking,” Schuler said. “And there was another gentleman who worked for us who was being managed by a 20-something year old when he was in his mid-50s. But now it’s not an issue in the slightest bit, I’ve been doing this now for a long time and I have a three in front of my age number.” In its eight years in operation, Cal Net has risen to become one of the larger independent network and services companies in the Valley, in terms of companies focused on catering to the IT needs of small and medium sized businesses. As for reasons for his company’s success, Schuler attributes it mainly to providing outstanding customer service. “Most of our business comes from referrals, because of the good job that we do for our clients. When you walk in with a referral from another company, it’s pretty easy to overcome the competition,” Schuler said. “When we get a customer I tell them that they aren’t just a client of ours, we walk down the aisle with them. We become true business partners. We want to help companies utilize technology to the best of their ability.” Cal Net currently has 20 employees and Schuler expects revenues for 2005 to be between $4.5 and $5.0 million. At such a young age, Schuler has already achieved many of the dreams that he had as a child. “My father was an entrepreneur and ran his own business, so I saw the ups and downs first hand. But I also saw the freedom that was associated with owning your own company,” Schuler said. “Whenever I imagined growing up I never thought that I’d work for someone else. My thought was always, I’m going to build a business.”

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