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“We spend a lot more time focusing on the relationship than just a quick fix to a problem. Strategically we focus on businesses that are growing or in some form accelerating. We want somebody that’s going to have challenges that we can help them overcome.”
BY ALYSON SHEPPARD
Abe Harper has been a lifelong champion of Baldwin County. The 36-year-old president of Harper Technologies — and winner of the Nappie Award for “Best Baldwinian Right Now” — was born in Fairhope and has only lived away from Lower Alabama for a single year while working on an engineering degree in Tallahassee.
“I thought I wanted out of the area because it just felt familiar,” he said. “And I quickly came to appreciate the quality of life we have here. We think the grass is greener on the other side. Then we come to realize if it’s not even grass. It’s AstroTurf.”
He moved back and enrolled at the University of South Alabama, but dropped out his junior year to found an IT company, Harper Technologies, in 2003. Today, his company offers managed services (updating systems and repairing computers), infrastructure (installing cables and wireless systems) and data and forensic services. They do off-site backups for clients and manage their data to make sure it’s protected, and they also testify in court as experts for data that has been deleted. Harper can also do forensic recovery on data that’s either been deleted or destroyed intentionally or accidentally.
“As Warren Buffett would say, we don’t do anything that anyone else couldn’t do. But the way that we do it is unique to us,” Harper said. “We spend a lot more time focusing on the relationship than just a quick fix to a problem. Strategically we focus on businesses that are growing or in some form accelerating. We want somebody that’s going to have challenges that we can help them overcome.”
Harper has earned himself a reputation for his forensics work, and often travels to New Orleans and Atlanta to serve clients requesting his expertise. In fact, he’s a private pilot, so he flies himself.
“There’s something to be said about getting a change of scenery,” he said. “But at the same time, I love coming back to what I know is home and where I know there are by and large a community of good-hearted people.”
For Harper, that community begins in the office. He says that his staff members are always trying to empower those around them; they stand for more than just being a 9-to-5 company. His 10 employees (which includes an in-office childcare provider) are offered one paid day off a month to volunteer at a nonprofit such as Big Brothers Big Sisters of America. Eventually he would like to offer them one day off a week to do charity work. His personal goal is to step away from his role as company president in 10 years and fully dedicate himself to philanthropic causes.
“I had a pastor say to us one time, ‘You’ll never run out of what you’re willing to give away.’ That includes time, talent, money and love,” he said. “I’m just going to keep giving energy back into the community and hopefully that holds true: We never run out of it.”
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