Like a phoenix…
Johnell Curry rebuilds her Abaco technology services business
Johnell Curry’s entrepreneurial journey is a tale of unexpected loss followed by triumph. After acquiring Computer Creations from its original owners, Curry managed the 20-year-old business until Hurricane Dorian struck Abaco and destroyed the brick-and-mortar business and all of its inventory. It’s a business in which she had been a partner for seven years, then solely owned for three years before the storm struck. She lost everything.
“Nothing was salvageable,” said Curry. “I was hurt, saddened, and completely hopeless.”
She had to restart from scratch.
Curry applied for and was awarded a $40,000 Disaster Recovery Grant from Access Accelerator, which has assisted her in getting her company up and running again.
“I was given emergency funding after the storm to get my business back up and running as soon as possible. It would have taken a much longer time to be where I’m now without the Access Accelerator’s help.”
Today, Curry operates Computer Creations – a full-service technology center offering computer sales and repair, network design and installation, printing, office and school supplies – from a mobile trailer adjacent to the commercial space she rented before Hurricane Dorian hit.
And she said she has been kept busy ever since as many people lost their computers and printers during the storm, and needed to use her services to get their devices restored and make copies of their important documents.
Her biggest challenge, she said, has been adjusting to a six-foot-by-12-foot trailer after being accustomed to a 1,200-square-foot commercial building. To help overcome the challenge, she uses her garage as a warehouse for her inventory and transformed her home office into a printing station for her print jobs.
Curry said she has plans to purchase property to build a new office with extra units she can rent out in the future.
“In 10 years, I want to expand Computer Creations’ services and products and be in a building with more space. When I managed Computer Creations as a partner, I was asked if I was interested in buying the company out. After Hurricane Dorian, there wasn’t anything left to buy, so the original owner wrote the business over to me.
“Growing up, I always liked fixing things, and it was natural for me to put together anything that needed to be assembled. The storm may have destroyed my store, but I’m great at fixing things that are broken, and I know with time, I will build back up even bigger and better.”
Today, Curry said she can still recall the moment she knew her storefront in Marsh Harbour has been destroyed.
“I saw a Facebook live video that captured the devastation before the internet service went down. I saw a building flooding and people fighting for their lives, and I said, ‘Oh, wow! That’s my store.’ When I saw how high the water was, I knew everything was destroyed.”