Low-cost computers that come with premium customer service
Can a company be sleek and efficient and still have the neighborly feel of "The Andy Griffith Show"?
David Deweese thinks so; in fact, that's how he describes CDI, which began providing recertified computers to his South Carolina district three years ago.
"I get a small-town, dependable kind of feeling with them," said Deweese, technology coordinator for Marlboro County School District, which operates nine schools around Bennettsville, S.C.
The Marlboro County district traditionally purchased new Dell equipment, but that was no longer possible once the recession began in 2008 and belt-tightening became the order of the day. A sales representative from CDI had been calling Deweese from time to time in a persistent but not pushy way, and had laid out a convincing case for buying recertified Dell units.
"I usually do not let salespeople talk to me," Deweese said. "He called me for a year before I decided to go with him."
Deweese's tech staff was trained and certified on Dell equipment, so he wanted to stick with that brand. He was happy to learn that he could buy two or three refurbished Dell units from CDI for the same price as a brand new one from the manufacturer. And the warranties on the equipment stretched from three to five years, which met or beat Dell's coverage, he said.
Deweese added that in the infrequent instances when CDI's equipment did fail, the company made up for it in service.
"They work pretty hard to get it right," he said. "They're pretty quick about it, too."
For example, he said that one set of 30 computers arrived loaded with the home edition of Windows 7, which wasn't compatible with the district's network. CDI immediately sent out the correct version of the software for Deweese's staff to load. It helps that the company's sales representative also acts as a troubleshooter with the power to get things done.
"With CDI, you got one person, which tends to make things quicker," Deweese said, calling his sales rep "a jewel."
Marlboro County's largest schools have adopted CDI equipment rapidly. About a third of the high school's computers—a mix of desktops and laptops—are recertified units. Because the district uniformly uses Dell equipment, most teachers and students fail to notice any difference, Deweese said.
CDI purchases most of its equipment from corporations that lease a particular model for a short time, then trade up to more powerful units. The equipment tends to be gently used, with enough horsepower to handle educational software.
Once computers are brought into its warehouse, CDI puts them through a rigorous checklist of deep cleaning, hardware repair and software testing. The process is repeated again before units are shipped out to customers.
The company, which caters to the education market, also offers custom imaging so district technicians don't have to spend a lot of time loading software once a shipment arrives.
Technology coordinators from other districts near Marlboro County have a monthly consortium to talk about issues, Deweese said, and CDI recently came up.
"They're getting a name in South Carolina and it's a pretty good one," he said.
For more information, visit www.cdicomputers.com.