By: Rober Bomboy
Bill Geise Jr., is the founder of Geise Associates, Ltd, in Sunbury, the Susquehanna Valley’s largest independent network and computer-support service. Though it doesn’t sell equipment, over the past 30 years his company has expanded to support more than 400 businesses that together have 500 information technology servers and literally thousands of desktop computers.
His is a symbolic story of the computer revolution. He began in animal sciences. In the early 1980s when IBM was bringing out the first personal computer, Bill was at Penn State University. “The College of Agriculture there was the first at Penn State to adopt personal computers,” he remembers. “I used all my in-dependent electives learning to write computer software that could calculate and balance the feed rations for animals. By my senior year I was selling desktop computers to agribusiness.”
Like others who were not mathematicians or scientists but were then beginning to glimpse what the small and powerful personal computers would become, he got into the field at just the right moment. One amazing statistic stands between the time that Bill began his business and what the new technology universe looks like today: The world’s capacity to compute information per capita has more than doubled every 14 months since then. And no one who carries a smartphone in a pocket or purse or a computer tablet in a briefcase would pause even for a second at the words “computer revolution” or blink an eye at the exponential pace of technological change.
For anyone who was in business during the early years of the computer age, it was amazing. It was exciting. As the time-line on the back page shows, there was something new every day. “It’s still amazing and new,” Bill says, “but now we don’t call it the ‘Computer Revolution’ because the change in technology is expected, even if not fully accepted. It’s an Internet of things. It’s no longer just computers that we’re dealing with but devices including: computers, phones, cameras, security systems, lighting controls, appliances. Information Technology.”
“My relationship with Geise Associates spans more than two decades,” says Ron Dreese – Principal, Asset Management Strategies, LLC, Partner, Wagner, Dreese, Elsasser & Associates, PC. “One of my primary reasons for ‘partnering’ with Bill is that, Geise Associates has kept pace with the technology changes, and they keep us informed about how these changes affect us. Frequently they bring the solutions to the table before I even know enough to ask the question.” One example of new technology that Geise Associates deals with is the Voice-Over-Internet phone system (VOIP) that lets a small business have a “big business” phone network. It transfers a digital signal from the phone on your desktop and sends it over the Internet, so your business can make calls around the world at essentially zero per minute cost.
Geise Associates designs and installs technology networks, large and small, that make business and government offices more efficient and keep them up to date. As consultants, their work generally costs less than if companies created their own dedicated IT (Information Technology) departments. Because they have been involved with so many companies and government units, they have developed a broad understanding of today’s technology, the best features of its hardware and software, and the ins and outs of the cyber-threats that endanger it.
Geise Associates focuses on individual-company consulting, and in that role it seeks to be a partner with its clients, as Ron Dreese pointed out.
“We’re looking for clients who want to manage their office technology – their information technology –doing the job right, the first time,” Bill says. “We’re looking for clients who want to develop a long-term relationship with somebody who’s going to manage their technology for them, while they don’t have to worry about being pushed to purchase something.”
Few small businesses have the technical understanding to analyze what they really need when they go out to buy or update office technology. They have to take off-the-shelf equipment at face value. But, as consultants, Bill says, “We have the breadth of knowledge to ask vendors whether new equipment will really meet our client’s needs – now and for the future. We try to ‘future-proof’ everything we do for clients. When we design a technology network for a client, we don’t plan it at its maximum capacity. We design it to be purchased at an efficient and cost-effective point for now but also so that it’s still expandable. So we design servers that have room to grow. We purchase systems to which we can add things so we don’t have to re-buy it in a year or two. By buying it right the first time, all a company will have to do is put a little money into it to keep it up, and not have to re-purchase it every few years as a major change.”
Geise Associates is changing its name to reflect its focus in the marketplace. “We have a business presence. We want to expand it,” Bill says.
Over the past few years, as the company approached its 30th anniversary in 2014, he began thinking about ways to define his business better. He reads a lot and often looks back on the original Latin sources of words. “I’ve always loved Latin,” he says. “I came upon a word that meant a strong foundation and that was my inspiration for coming up with the term Asuro. In this new name I wanted something that had a connotation of strength and reliability.”
He also wanted his company’s new name to immediately identify it as a technology company – so to the strength of ‘Asuro’ he added the letters ‘IT.’ The company’s new name will be Asuro IT Services, a name that suggests the idea of assurance and strong foundations. “We want to build firm and lasting foundations,” he adds. “Anything you build of worth has to be on a sound foundation, an underlying base for support and future maintenance. And that’s what we’re striving for, an assurance of quality, tenacity and dependability.”
Bill calls himself a “serial entrepreneur.” Like a Horatio Alger character, he started in business at the age of five. He was born on a Point Township farm that has been well known to at least two generations for its 80 acres, luxuriantly green with rows of tall, well-watered sweet corn reaching toward the sky alongside Route 11. Thousands of eager drivers have stopped by the roadside to buy their bags of fresh-picked corn from his parents, Bill Geise Sr., and his wife Mollie. And, when he was a boy, Bill Jr.
When he was five, Bill remembers, he pulled up his little red wagon, loaded it with corn and started selling it himself. From that point, he began selling sweet corn every summer and sold enough of it so that it helped pay his way through college. “So I’ve been an independent businessman, pretty much, since the age of five,” he laughs.
“Whether it’s our customers or our employees,” Bill promises, “the big thing is that we treat people honestly and fairly: our word is our bond. That’s been my guiding principle from the beginning.” This strong foundation of integrity comes from the Biblical faith and values that have shaped this business as well as the family life that Bill shares with his wife Marti and his daughters Melissa and Sarah. Bill appreciates the support and encouragement they have given him over the years.
In some ways, Bill’s employees are a lot like family too. This is reflected in the fact that some employees have had 13, 15, and 17 years of tenure with this company, remarkable in an industry where average longevity with an IT business is 18 months. The staff consists of Jennifer Birdsall, Dustin Dreese, Victor Ferris, Jessie Garrison, Desmond Loftus, and Matthew Marziale. Jennifer Birdsall of Picture Rocks has a Bachelor of Science degree in business administration from Bloomsburg University. She has worked for Geise Associates as its office manager since 1997 and recently became its Director of Marketing.
Dustin Dreese, who was born and raised in Northumberland County, served in the army and rose to the rank of sergeant. He joined Geise Associates after going back to school and earning an associate degree in network administration and security from McCann School of Business and Technology. Victor Ferris, who is an IT and network specialist, graduated summa cum laude and was the valedictorian of his class in 2007 at the McCann School of Business and Technology. Jessie Garrison moved here from West Virginia. He is hardware and software certified and has an associate degree in network administration and security from Mc-Cann School of Business and Technology.
Desmond Loftus has a four-year baccalaureate degree in information technology from Vaal University of Technology in South Africa. He specializes in technology networking and server and work-station operating systems.
“I have been in the technology field for 17 years and have been fortunate enough to have worked in many countries,” Desmond says. “One of the advantages of working for Geise Associates is the freedom we have to build and maintain professional relationships with our clients. These relationships give me the opportunity to grow with the technology.
“Matthew Marziale of Watsontown has a Bachelor of Science degree in information science and technology from Penn State University and is certified in networking technologies. Before joining Geise Associates he operated his own firm, FixMeHere Technologies.
“Geise Associates is a team, not just one person,” concludes Kelly Sheaffer of Weaver Models, a longtime client in Northumberland. “No matter what problem we have, they respond immediately! They understand how important it is to fix our computer problems fast so we can continue with our work flow ASAP with minimal interruptions.”
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