Red Raven technology

After first year as full-time tech business, Red Raven seeks to expand its clientele

Kevin Vetsch has lived with computers since he played games on a Commodore 64 as a child in the 1980s.

Now 43, he’s worked with business computers for more than 20 years, but it’s only been the past year that his home-based business, Red Raven Technology Solutions, has been his full-time occupation.

Vetsch provides technology solutions to local businesses that can include setting up and maintaining networks, protection from viruses and other malware, operating email servers, cloud-based solutions, and various managed services that can often be handled remotely.

Matt Leyes and Ravina Johal, owners of Black Sage Butcher in Oliver, show some of their meat products. (Richard McGuire Photo)
Kevin Vetsch provides technology solutions to local businesses. (Richard McGuire Photo)
Kevin Vetsch shows an Oliver client's network configuration, which he services. (Richard McGuire Photo)

Operating from his home in Oliver, he handles clients from West Kelowna to Osoyoos to Keremeos, but the largest number are in Oliver, with a growing number in Penticton.

Originally from Drayton Valley, Alberta, his family moved to BC when he was around 10 and they settled in Winfield, now Lake Country.

Vetsch started tinkering with computers at a young age.

“I always had a computer, and I would get it going for games and everything,” he recalls. “Then I’d break it and I’d have to figure out how to fix it so my dad wouldn’t get upset about spending money to get it fixed. I did that for a while and built a few computers.”

Before jumping with both feet into technology as a career, he worked in several “dead-end jobs.” He recalls one in particular that was a turning point.

“The one that really pushed me [to upgrade my skills] was working at a fiberglass plant doing fenders,” he said. “I knew every day going there that I was sucking back all this fiberglass. We had masks, but it was just gross working around it and washing your hands in acetone. I realized I was killing myself. When I looked at all the old boys that had been there forever, I knew I didn’t want to be like that, so that is what prompted me to push out and change.”

Many clients that Kevin Vetsch services have numerous computers which connect to a network through a router like this one. (Richard McGuire Photo)

Around 1999, information technology (IT) was booming, there was a shortage of technicians and there was word of jobs available that paid $100,000 and up per year.

Vetsch was exploring his passions as he looked for a career change, and he thought about how much he enjoyed working with computers. He realized technology would be a good fit. So he did some schooling in Kelowna and got some Microsoft certificates that qualified him to work in the industry.

But when he started passing out resumes in Vancouver, there was a catch. He had the formal qualifications, but he lacked experience. He told companies he was trying to break into the industry, but they just handed back the resumes.

“I ended up finally breaking in with a company up in Fort St. John called Nortech,” he said.

He moved north in 2001 and started working in a tech shop that did home user computers, but also business computers. While he started in the back working on home systems, he began taking on business clients.

After a while, the company moved him to a satellite office farther north in Fort Nelson, where he took on some larger mill clients and handled tech management of the store.

It was in Fort Nelson where he met his wife, Meghan, who now looks after the accounting for his business. He also started doing technology work for the Northern Health Authority, first in Fort Nelson and later in Dawson Creek.

Kevin Vetsch often brings his own notebook computer when he is troubleshooting a network for a client. (Richard McGuire Photo)

“About 2006, we decided to move down here [Oliver], because all of our family is here and winters are far too long up there,” he said.

For about 11 years, he worked as IT manager for the Osoyoos Indian Band, and in 2013 he began his own business on the side, working after hours and on weekends with his own clients.

In September 2021, he made Red Raven his full-time business. He left the OIB on good terms and still does work for them.

“It was just a choice. I wanted to go out and do something more for myself,” he said. “My wife and a few friends had been prodding me and saying, ‘You should really do it.’ It felt like it was the time to go ahead.”

His first year has gone well, in part because he already had a number of good-quality clients.

“Of course I always need more,” he said. “I need to grow. I’m not just driving to be a single-man shop. I want to build something. To do that, I need to gain more and more clients.”

Vetsch has always focused on business clients. He primarily works on Windows-based computers, although he admits to having an Apple iPhone and being somewhat conversant with Macintoshes.

When starting with a new client, Vetsch goes into the business and assesses the state of their computer technology, determining which solutions would work to make their business more efficient.

He likes to go on site to give a personal face-to-face experience for the customer, but he often serves customers through remote access.

“Remote allows me to take care of those issues really quickly, rather than having to fit in a timeslot that might be affected by the schedule with other clients,” he said. “I might just have five minutes, I can quickly connect, take care of the problem, and everybody is taken care of.”

Vetsch does much of his work in his home office, and he keeps inventory at home. He stocks the most common parts and brings them in a “mobile store,” a pushcart, to the external jobs he works on so he’ll have the necessary parts handy.

The major advantage of being home based is reduced overhead. Living where he works is a mixed blessing. It’s easy to step into the office if something comes up, but it can mean getting pulled into work at any time.

“It seems like there’s a lot more distractions when you’re at home versus when you’re isolated in an office space,” he said.

His two boys are “for the most part” good about not disturbing him when his door is closed.

Kevin Vetsch shows a computer in a retailer's front area that is linked to a network that he looks after. (Richard McGuire Photo)

Vetsch tries to communicate well with his clients, using plain language and avoiding technical jargon. Although some customers apologize for their lack of technical knowledge, Vetsch says he doesn’t expect them to be tech savvy – that’s his job, after all.

“I try my best to make my customers comfortable,” he said. “I don’t want anyone feeling like they can’t approach me and ask a question.”

Sometimes asking a question about a potential security risk, for example, can save the client a lot of money.

When he’s not working on computers or spending time with his family, Vetsch also works as a volunteer firefighter with the Oliver Fire Department.

His customers are understanding if he’s called away to a fire, but he makes sure not to leave a client hanging if a computer problem means they can’t work.

“I’m not going to leave them,” he said. “They are my priority.”

The fire department accepts that family comes first, business second and the fire department third, he adds.

As he enters his second year as a full-time business, Vetsch wants to continue growing and taking on more customers. He hopes to add more wineries to his clientele, but he sees the biggest growth potential in Penticton. And he hopes to be able to add another technician.

With the past year behind him, he’s now set his sights on growing his business.

Contact

PHONE

250-488-4404

EMAIL

kevin@raventech.ca

Address

P.O. Box 1188
Oliver, BC  V0H 1T0