HPM: Local and Tech Savvy

I think that I speak for most when I say that I have no patience for computer problems. Since most of us rely on computers to do our jobs and to manage our personal lives as well, we find ourselves incapacitated quickly when computer problems arise.  When the inevitable happens and we find ourselves without a working computer, often when we need it the most, there is the added challenge of finding trustworthy help.  Technology, although purported to make our lives easier, sometimes brings us the biggest headaches. Having a working computer is crucial and good tech support is indispensable. HPM Tech Services understands this, but even more importantly they understand that good tech support starts with a good relationship with their clients.

HPM Tech services has a rich history in Ithaca and has fostered a great reputation here in the Village of Cayuga Heights. A reputation that has been carefully developed through the strong and heartfelt business practices of its owners. HPM Tech Services was built on the kind of care for people, both customers and employees, that you don’t find just anywhere. It was clear from the beginning of our time together that both Jay and John put strong working relationships, their families, and their community before making money or prestige. Although walk-in tech support is a part of what HPM offers they have much more going on behind the scenes.

Entering HPM Tech Services for my interview I was immediately met by Jay O’Leary co-owner and President of HPM Enterprises, the parent company that includes HPM Tech Services as well as the software development company Action XL. He greeted me warmly and invited me to join him at his desk. John Brehm, Network Engineer, and impetus for the tech side of HPM, joined us as well.  A few of the other five employees were busy working in their offices as we talked, including Ben Kalb, Co-owner, and Senior Programmer. There is 50 years of experience in the IT industry between Jay and John. They bring to their impressive business their combined expertise as well as a large network of other IT Support specialists that they can draw on for help. What is even more impressive to me is their commitment to treating people with the dignity and respect they deserve. Sometimes that means going to bat against what John calls “tech bullies”, meaning that in some situations their clients will find themselves up against a larger company that is not providing good service and John will step in to mediate better treatment.

To give some background for this impressive tech business, we need to start with Co-Owner Jay O’Leary who has lived, worked, and raised a family in the Ithaca area for over 50 years. Jay’s employment history starting with Kionix in the early 2000s and combined with his time as a BOCES Microcomputer Support Specialist has helped to form his early business practices. Together with Ben Kalb, Jay created a successful division of Kionix focused on software development and movement sensors for handheld devices called Action XL which then spun off as its own company. Action XL still exists together with HPM Tech Services as one of the arms of HPM Enterprises.  Action XL is a software development company that creates software ranging from unique gaming experiences to custom business software for a wide variety of clients for both phones and desktops. Producing around eight different software applications a year, Jay and Ben will run system analysis to determine where bottlenecks are and work to develop a tool for solving them.  Customers for the software business are fed from the tech service side of the business, they already know how great HPM is with support and so they seek out additional work from the software side.  Once an application has been successfully implemented, the new software is then marketed to other similar companies. A recent example of this is software that was developed for the company Wildlife Resolutions. Feeling the weight of EPA regulations that were bogging down the day-to-day activities, Wildlife approached HPM with a need for Chemical tracking software. Thanks to Action XL this process has been made much simpler, freeing the employees at Wildlife to do the work they need to do.

John Brehm also an Ithaca area resident for several decades and now part owner of HPM Enterprises is the reason HPM Tech Services exists. Earlier in John’s IT career, still working at CBORD he approached Jay to ask advice about starting his own IT business. Jay, understanding through his own experience what it takes to start and maintain a successful business and also recognizing the potential in John himself, offered to bring John on and partner with him to launch HPM Tech services. And so, in May of 2011 HPM Tech Services was born. In John’s capable hands the tech support business has been thriving and growing. They offer support for a lot of the small businesses you see in Community Corners, as well as larger professional businesses from all over the Ithaca area such as doctors offices and municipalities. Their clients come from as far as Tully and Skaneateles, NY which is quite impressive for a seemingly small local business here in the Village of Cayuga Heights. Their location in Community Corners, next to Adam’s Café and across from Flower Fashions, allows them to serve a wide variety of clients. HPM’s customers come from the entire Northeast corner of the surrounding Ithaca area. There are customers from Dryden and Lansing who prefer not to travel into the city, customers from Cornell campus, and of course the residents here in the Village. The walk-in customers from the Village are unique in themselves, being a group of people that on average are older and come with their own set of computer needs. It is because of this wide range of customers that during covid, while a lot of businesses were forced to work from home or shut their doors completely HPM Tech Services was mandated by the government to stay open. This afforded them an opportunity to not just survive during this tough time but thrive. They were even able to take on some additional clients from businesses that were not as fortunate. But it is more than that, as Jay explained to me, when you own your own business there takes a level of grit and tenacity. Every business comes to a point where “You have to decide how badly you want it”. Jay, John, Ben and the other employees of HPM have what it takes to keep the doors open and business running as evident by their current status in the community. As a matter of fact, business seems to have picked up for most people in Community Corners after covid. It pleases Jay and John to see other fellow business owners doing well, which again is a testament that community matters to these men.

HPM’s good business practices were evident throughout my time with them. One in particular caught my attention, which is their hiring philosophy. Jay explained to me that he has a vision for the type of employees that he desires to have working for him. He is not as concerned with skill level, degrees, years of experience, these things can all be taught. He is, however, looking for individuals who have good character development, who know how to treat people with kindness and respect. These skills are much harder to teach someone and rings true to their business priorities. They would like to be a place of employment for a unique set of individuals that desire to stay in Ithaca and want to develop their tech skills, yet might be struggling to find a place to fit in. For a municipality such as the Village which has its own Police and Fire Departments it is necessary to have a good relationship and devoted service when it comes to IT. John tirelessly and professionally ensures that our systems are running smoothly so that we can then in turn support our residents well. We are so very grateful for HPM Tech Services, thank you!

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