Hi-tech company flourishing Olalla
June 12, 2008 · Updated 1:21 PM
"Quick. Name a high-tech company with an international clientele working out of small quarters in Olalla? If you're scratching your head, you're not alone. Olalla is not exactly the high-tech capital of the world, but it's the kind of bucolic suburb where an emerging company like Linux-Works finds it easy to operate. It's a great place to have this kind of business, said Ray Garrido, chief executive officer of Linux-Works, which provides computer hardware, software, web site, and network solutions that are compatible with Windows, Novell and Linux operating systems. Kitsap has a fantastic workforce for what we're doing and it's an easy place to get in and out of, plus the prices are right in terms of business space. Our company philosophy is driven by three objectives: to make technology available to as many people around the world as possible; to provide family wage jobs and a workplace that values the people who work there; and to contribute to our community in a variety of ways.Linux-Works is the type of nimble, fast-moving company that can prosper quite nicely in Kitsap County, added Kevin Dwyer of the Kitsap Regional Economic Development Council. We're a great location for businesses that can be located virtually anywhere. On top of that, we have affordable housing, affordable business costs, great training facilities and a first-rate telecommunications system. Garrido's company has been doing business in Olalla for the past 12 years under the name of The Net Works. Founded by a group of computer engineers, The Net Works provided networking solution to businesses in the Puget Sound region. A retired US West executive, Garrido joined the company in 2000 and with his four partners, changed the name to Linux-Works to better reflect the focus of their business. Linux is the free computer network operating system developed by software engineers on the Internet that is considered a viable alternative to Microsoft products. The Linux world is expanding and we're building a business model to expand with it, Garrido said. We're a high-tech company that offers quality computer products and services. Kitsap educators have done a great job teaching high tech skills. Now we're creating local jobs that use those skills. The money and hence the jobs don't have to be exported to Seattle, King County, South Dakota and Texas. We just need to do a better job locally, and we're trying to contribute to that effort. While much of our business is done internationally, Garrido said, we intentionally kept the local operation here to provide the same quality products, services and jobs to our own community.Linux-Works provides its customers with hardware and software solutions as well as network and web site development consulting and ongoing technical support. Garrido said the company's network engineers have certifications in Linux, Microsoft Windows 95, 98, NT and 2000, Novell and numerous business applications dating back to 1968. Over the past two years, we've been exploring the use of the Linux operating system as a more stable and less costly alternative for our customers' networking needs, Garrido said. During that time, we've observed the base of business applications available for Linux grow exponentially. We see Linux as the operating system of the future. Today several of our customers are using Linux servers to provide a more stable and less expensive network for their Windows workstations. Linux and Windows work together very well.About half the company's hardware sales, including the Nano PC, a desktop computer in a very tiny package, laptops, workstations and servers, come from their web site. (www.linux-works.com The company's client base includes Prudential Northwest Real Estate, Kitsap Federal Credit Union, Packaging Technology of Tacoma, Harbor Press in Gig Harbor, as well as a sizable international clientele that includes customers in Europe and Asia.Someone published an article about us in a Linux chat room earlier this year and the next thing we knew the phones were ringing off the hook, Garrido recalled. Seventy-five percent of our business is now in Europe.Linux is better known in Europe than here.Linux-Works has four full-time employees, but Garrido expects to add significantly to that number in the coming year or so. The company plans to hire at least 10 more people in its local service and support group, which includes customers in Kitsap, King, Pierce and Jefferson counties and three others to work in web site development.Garrido's ambitious expansion projections involve the creation of a local sales and service support center that eventually would employ 20 to 30 people. The center would handle web site-generated sales and technical support. If we keep growing the way we're going, we can have 20 to 30 people doing that in less than three years, Garrido said. "