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JAMES RUTH

May 1, 2012 12:10 am

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FAMILY: Father: Harry Ruth; mother: Lynda Ruth (deceased); older sister: Becky Ruth; younger brother: Michael Ruth; son: River Ciccocioppo

EDUCATION: Mary Washington College, Germanna Community College, graduated from Strayer University

FIRST JOB: My first job was working at the movie theater in the Spotsylvania Mall. I would take tickets, clean theaters and sell movie tickets and popcorn. The job was fun. I watched all the new movies for free and made friends I still talk to today.

WHAT DID YOU WANT TO BE WHEN YOU GREW UP? I always wanted to work with computers. My family bought a Commodore 64 computer when I was 12 years old. My brother and I would make simple programs, play games and talk to people on local bulletin boards.

HOW DID YOU END UP OWNING HEART AND SOUL COMPUTER? I decided back in 2006 that I wanted to start my own computer repair business. I registered the Heart and Soul Computer name with the state of Virginia. I did not have the capital to start the business. I was hired by Computer Sciences Corp. in 2007 and I put 18 percent of my salary into a 401(k) retirement program. I left Computer Sciences Corp. to start the business, and I used the 401(k) funds to finance the operation.

WHAT IS THE BIGGEST CHALLENGE YOU'RE WRESTLING WITH NOW? The biggest challenge is inventory. I do not have the funds to purchase computers, and the selection I offer is limited to three or four different computer systems.

WHAT IS ONE THING YOU WOULD CHANGE ABOUT YOUR JOB? Nothing. I love the job and I really enjoy helping people with computer problems.

WHO WAS AND IS YOUR HERO? I was a huge fan of Dan Marino from the Miami Dolphins. He kept his cool under pressure and delivered great passes under pressure. As I grew older I realized my father is also a great role model. He goes out of his way to help people, and that is a great example to follow.

WHO WAS YOUR MENTOR, AND WHAT WAS THE BEST ADVICE HE OR SHE GAVE YOU? There was a contract network administrator who used to help me in Culpeper County Schools with tough problems. He would let me watch everything he was doing and offered to teach me stuff I did not know. I learned more from him than from school.

WHAT ARE THE BEST LOCAL RESOURCES FOR SMALL BUSINESSES GETTING STARTED OR EXPANDING? I am still trying to figure this one. I did everything myself, but it would be great to have assistance.

WHAT BUSINESS BOOK DO YOU RECOMMEND THE MOST AND WHY? I do not have a particular favorite business book. I took business classes at Germanna Community College so my favorite business book was a college textbook.

CAN YOU SHARE A WEIRD FUN FACT ABOUT YOUR PROFESSION THAT WE MIGHT NOT KNOW? Almost every computer has a virus or spyware, and anti-virus programs are better at fighting infection than catching the culprit in the act. Scan your computer at least once a month.

WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE SOMEONE THINKING ABOUT STARTING A BUSINESS RIGHT NOW? Do not buy shop supplies or inventory unless you know you need it. Business will start off slow, and you will have plenty of time to purchase equipment. I spent $500 on a point of sales system that I cannot use.

Also, take your time with people and offer free advice. A little bit of kindness goes a long way.

WHAT ARE YOU MOST LIKELY TO BE DOING WHEN NOT WORKING? I like to play disc golf. Loriella Park has a great course.

WHO WOULD YOU RATHER SPEND TIME WITH, WARREN BUFFETT, DORIS BUFFETT OR JIMMY BUFFETT? I would get along with Jimmy Buffett. "Just enjoy this ride on my trip around the sun."

540/412-1870; heartandsoulcomputer.com

--As told to Craig Schulin




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