In 1979, Holly Fullingim received a call from a family friend that would change the trajectory of her life – and the community of Harlingen, Texas.
“Back then I was a single mom and going nowhere,” Holly says. “The town I lived in was isolated from the rest of the world. We didn’t have a rock-and-roll station or even a restaurant, so the going joke in high school was that we were 10 years behind everyone else in the country. This is long before the Internet made ‘work from anywhere’ a possibility, and the opportunities available to me were limited, to say the least.”
So when her family friend offered to teach Holly about computer programming for a career opportunity, she jumped at the chance.
“He said, ‘I just got into this new thing called computer programming…and I think you’d be really good at it. If you’ll come out to Los Angeles, I’ll show you what I’m doing and teach you how to do it too. I have a feeling this is something you’d be really good at,’” Holly recalls.
She admits she had no idea what a computer was, but, desperate for an opportunity, she accepted the offer and flew to Los Angeles, California, with her baby son. Determined to succeed, she poured her time and attention into learning computer programming and, within a few weeks, she was proficient enough to land a job as a computer programmer. There was only one small problem – they hired her to do Assembly language programming on a big mainframe using a technology she knew nothing about.
Holly bought another book and crammed over the weekend, teaching herself the computer programming skills she needed to do her new job. “I was young, fearless and had a pigheaded determination to succeed,” Holly says. “Turns out that’s exactly what they needed. Back then, nobody was an ‘expert’ and everyone was learning – so the simple fact that I was determined to be the best allowed me to excel at the job, and I did.”
After three years, Holly moved back to her hometown to help her parents launch their own computer programming business, which she worked in for 10 years.
From there Holly went on to join an international petrochemical company in the Houston area, where she expanded her experience in IT to include networking and IT infrastructure support. As before, she was mostly self-taught, finishing her degree and acquiring industry certifications from industry leaders Novell, Microsoft and Dell in the specialty areas of networking, Microsoft Windows and Office software products, computer hardware maintenance and printer repair.
But Holly’s heart was always in her hometown, and a decade later she once again returned, but this time with a purpose and mission.
Taking Harlingen, Texas, Into The 21st Century
“I couldn’t stop thinking about the people I cared about in my hometown,” Holly says. “I stayed in touch with many of my high school friends who were now running businesses of their own and discovered that they were struggling to compete with larger companies in Houston, Austin and San Antonio because they were so behind the times from a technological perspective.
“So I came up with the idea of opening a computer training center for Harlingen to bring IT expertise to businesses in the Valley so they could compete against the big guys from the bigger cities who were always winning our local business as the ‘experts.’ This has always been my driving passion and still is my reason for operating my business here, in the Rio Grande Valley of Texas,” she continues.
Holly developed an all-new curriculum with over 15 computer training courses, with the primary focus on businesses. She taught Microsoft Word, Microsoft Office, Windows and the Internet, later adding QuickBooks, a training for business owners she continues to this day. As a QuickBooks Pro Certified Advisor, she has authored a book on QuickBooks and has personally trained hundreds of people across Texas and the west coast.
Within six months of opening, her business expanded to the point where she needed to hire help, so she recruited her technical-minded son Jason and his wife, Olivia, to join her in the business. But in 2004, Jason and Olivia decided they wanted to pursue another opportunity in Houston and left the family business. “We had this growing computer services business and no way to manage that and the training,” Holly says. “Something had to give, so we shifted away from training and renamed the business Quick Compute.
Today Quick Compute is the most trusted, fastest-growing IT services company in Harlingen, offering managed IT support to businesses in the Valley. Her intense focus on truly serving her clients has fueled an impressive 30% year-over-year growth in the last three years and more than doubling in the last 10. Holly and her team focus primarily on serving medical clients, but also support a number of attorneys and nonprofits.
Continually Learning, Continually Improving To Benefit Clients
Even though Quick Compute no longer provides computer training, the core value of constantly learning and improving has continued to be a big part of their culture. Holly invests heavily in keeping ahead of rapidly changing technology trends, threats and regulatory compliance through training, attending conferences and networking with other top IT providers and MSPs around the country.
“We stay very much on top of current trends, especially cyber security and compliance,” Holly says. “By entrenching myself in the tech community, I’m constantly discovering new and better tools and methodology, which I then bring back to better serve our clients.”
Quick Compute’s advisory board includes medical professionals from UT Medical, a large health-care system in Texas, which adds an important outside perspective for their medical clients. “The board sees things from a much bigger viewpoint, especially when it comes to HIPAA compliance and security,” Holly says. “This helps keep our clients more relevant and in tune with what’s going on outside our area.”
Protecting Clients Through Compliance
Most of Quick Compute’s clients have a regulatory compliance requirement or answer to a board or financial oversight committee. Holly, who expanded her certifications as a Certified HIPAA Privacy Security Expert (CHPSE) and HIPAA Compliance Officer, works to bring integrated solutions to her clients to protect them from risk and make compliance easy.
“We never use scare tactics like we’ve seen some of the big outside companies do,” Holly says. “We focus on making compliance a non-issue for clients by finding out what their compliance needs are and simply taking the complexity out of it for them. We take care of everything for them and do it in a realistic, economical fashion that meets the requirement without breaking the bank.”
The Real Secret To Their Success: Integrity And A Genuine Desire To Serve
For Holly, her clients are more than customers – they’re family. “When we take on a new client, I tell them, ‘If you come on as my client, you become a part of the Quick Compute family.’ I advise them the way I’d advise my own mother and would never take advantage of them,” she says. This is why so many clients have been with Quick Compute for over 15 to 20 years and wouldn’t think of working with anyone else.
“Technology is an area where small business owners can easily get taken advantage of,” says Holly. “Your average business owner can’t truly determine if an IT company is doing a good job or not until a disaster happens. So I’m extremely transparent with our clients and make sure we don’t take advantage of their trust by selling them things they don’t need or failing to do the critical maintenance they are paying for,” she continues. “In this way, should something bad happen, they know they can count on us to be right there with them, providing good guidance and solutions.”
Part of Holly’s mission to support her local economy also extends to who she hires and the opportunities she makes available. “I typically hire people who have no experience but have a genuine desire to learn and serve,” she says. She provides training, mentorship and support to give them the same opportunity she was offered years ago. Not only does this allow her to ensure her technicians receive quality training from the ground up, but it also creates a culture of loyalty and gratitude, which is “paid forward” in serving her clients. In fact, her two lead techs have been with the company for 13 years and wouldn’t consider working anywhere else.
“We are a bit of an anomaly,” says Holly. “We’re a cutting-edge, highly competent IT company operating with small-town values and old-fashioned integrity. You don’t find that very often anymore, but we’re committed to keeping this spirit front and center in everything we do, no matter how big we become.”