Computer Buff-Entrepreneur Is All
Business at the Age of 17
By Lonnie Hudkins
People who worry about the survival of the free-enterprise system in America should talk to 17-year old David Park before they decide to throw in the towel.
David's friends say the friendly goalie for the Williamsville South High School hockey team is well on his way to realizing the American dream of making a lot of money. They say it isn't a matter of whether he will make a million dollars, but when he will do it.
The 5-foot-6 young man, who will be a senior this fall, is making his mark in the computer business. When he talks, adults listen, because he knows what he is talking about.
During the school year, his typical day begins at about 5:30 or 6: am. He eats breakfast at home most of the time but occasionally goes out for a bagel. After breakfast, he drives to school in his not-easy-to-miss yellow Volkswagen Rabbit.
"I take a full range of courses," said David, who is also a member of the varsity tennis team. "I definitely enjoy going to school."
An observer of David's school day would notice that he is a computer buff. He uses a Tandy 100 portable lap -top computer to take notes in class.
"My dad bought me an Apple II - one of the original Apple II models - in 1977," he said, "and I've been fooling around with computers ever since. I guess I have about five or six computers at home now."
By the time he was 14, David had organized his own company. He borrowed $ 500, which he paid back, and started selling an anti-static spray and an anti-static cleaning cloth for computers. He convinced a lot of adults that "static is an annoyance and attracts alot of dust. Dust can destroy the chips inside a computer." He sold his products by making his customers aware that they could make their computers last longer.
David also sold floppy disks and other supplies. By the time he was 15, he had 12 other kids working for him on a commission basis. But back to David's typical day.
During the school year, he practices with the hockey and tennis teams and participates in the contests against teams from other schools. Friday, however, he reports for work as purchasing director at Amherst Computer Exchange. He works from 3 to 8 pm and 10 am to 5 pm on Saturdays.
In the computer store, David wheels and deals and contributes to the growth of the business. "I was the first employee hired here," he said with pride. "I love sales work. It's a challenge to find ways for people to use computers in their businesses or homes or schools."
He manages to sell many computers and software programs during his 12 hours of work. The reason: customers trust him.
A man from Albany wanted some information about word processing. David told him to take his time and learn as much as he could about computers and word processing before making a decision to buy.
"Shop around," David was overheard telling the customer. A few months later, the same man returned. He knew alot more about computers because he had shopped around as David advised, and he also bought the computer and word processing program that David suggested.
David, who is familiar with most brand-name computer equipment and can program in several languages, including "C" and Pascal plans to go to college.
"My folks would like for me to get a good liberal arts education before I decide what to do with the rest of my life," he said. "I listen to them. I owe alot to them. Eventually, I might want to go to law school."
In the meantime, while he's figuring out what to do, David Park most likely will be busy making a million dollars selling computers.
"I'm doing pretty well for a kid," he mused.