CONCORD – Don Schrader first started using computers to do bookkeeping for his family’s steel contracting business. At the time, he had no idea it would eventually lead to an entirely different professional venture. “When I took over the family business in 1984, we were still doing bookkeeping by hand,” he remembers. “Computers were just starting to come into their own, and by mid-’85 there was accounting software available, so I decided to go for it. I learned how to do a little programming, which enabled me to modify the software to my liking. Over the next few years, I got pretty handy with computers, as did my son, Rex, who was about 12 when it all started.”
After his family’s business closed in 1993, Don went to work for another steel contractor, but it wasn’t long before his digital destiny came to fruition. “By this time, Rex had gone off to college, where he was majoring in computer programming,” he explains. “While visiting one summer, he suggested we put an ad in the paper for computer service. We started getting calls—Rex handled things during the weekdays and I helped out during evenings and weekends. That was the beginning of Schrader & Son.” When Rex returned to college in the fall, Don decided to keep the ad running. “Things got busier and busier until I eventually left my other job to do full-time computer service.” Twenty years later, Don is still serving a customer base that spans three Bay Area counties.
A resident of Concord, Don likes to spend his free time relaxing and having fun, usually in the company of his wife, Colleen. “I enjoy golfing and traveling with my wife,” he affirms. “She recently retired, so we’ve been able to do a lot more of those things lately.” Don also enjoys spending time with his family, including Rex; his two daughters, Danielle and Bonnie; and his two granddaughters.
In regard to a professional philosophy, Don recommends being generous with your knowledge. “Some people in this business forget that it’s a service industry, which means the customer comes first,” he says. “Sometimes people will cold-call me with questions about their computers, and if I can help them over the phone, I’m happy to do so. Did I make any money? No, but I helped someone out, which has its own reward. Plus, when that person has a real problem down the road, they’re going to call me, so it’s a win-win.”
When asked what his future retirement might look like, Don says he’ll likely keep a hand in his livelihood. “The reality is I don’t have to work, but I love doing this. I have a couple of employees, so I’m not working full-time, but I’m busy enough that I don’t get bored. I still have time to travel and play golf, so I see no reason to change anything.”