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Sustainable Technology For A Greener Future: Data Flow Computers

Sustainable Technology For A Greener Future: Data Flow Computers

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Sustainable Technology For A Greener Future: Data Flow Computers

Although Baltimore natives brothers Ed and Daniel Brunson are celebrating the 20th anniversary of their successful computer repair, sales, and installation business, Data Flow, their company, actually represents a second-generation iteration of the communications enterprise pioneered by their mother, Dorothy Brunson, more than 50 years ago.

The Brunson siblings established Data Flow in 2004 as another commercial endeavor among several they had dabbled in as young entrepreneurs, including real estate, retail operations, and consulting. They partnered on the computer operation because it complemented the range of professional experiences they and their associates had acquired in tech, retail sales, communications, and management that leveraged everyone’s capabilities into a cohesive business model that has consistently proven itself over two decades.

Ed Daniel Brunson Founders of Data Flow

Ed Brunson has shared that they envisioned Data Flow Computers, located off Baltimore’s downtown central business district near the main post office at 1265 E. Fayette Street, as a community resource to ensure that the growth of the internet and computer technology was available to historically underserved inner-city residents.

Not only has Data Flow offered sales and service of computer hardware, but the company has maintained leading-edge knowledge in software, Wi-Fi, and related applications as computers’ rapidly changing sophistication has perpetually evolved since the dial-up era when the company started. The quality of the work product Data Flow provides is affirmed not only by its clients’ testimonials but also by the dispassionate, objective assessments of respected consumer advocacy organizations that conduct empirical examinations of businesses.

While Ed and Daniel Brunson’s formula for success is obviously paying substantial dividends, prospects for their continued growth are forecast to be steady based on trends in the domestic computer industry emphasizing repairing over constant replacement.

According to a 2021 finding by the Public Interest Network (PIN), a Denver, Colorado-based social advocacy group, “American households spend about $1,767 [each] purchasing new electronic products per year.” PIN concludes that “repair could reduce household spending on electronics and appliances by 21.6 percent, which would save an average family approximately $382 per year. This means that across 129 million households nationally, repair [instead of a new purchase] could save Americans a total of $49.6 billion annually.” The Public Interest Network also points out that “the money people do spend on repair provides more benefits to the local economy” because repair dollars recirculate through the hometown economic life cycle “instead of relying on the global supply chain to bring a never-ending supply of new stuff; repair helps us keep devices going using only local resources.”

There is currently a movement in Maryland to create legislation mandating electronics manufacturers to make it easier for facilities like Data Flow, and even everyday individual tinkerers, the opportunity to fix computers by relaxing their policy of not making manuals, parts, tools and software updates available except to their own certified factory technicians, allowing manufacturers to monopolize servicing and artificially inflate the costs for maintenance and repairs.

Data Flow Shop

Right To Repair is an effort in Maryland that is gaining momentum and is currently the law in Massachusetts, Colorado, New York, Minnesota, Maine, and California, which simply put, “requires manufacturers to provide owners and independent repair businesses with fair access to service information and affordable replacement parts so you can fix the stuff you own quickly,” described on the Repair Association’s website, repair.org, which was established in 2013 as the Digital Right to Repair Coalition.

According to studies by the Federal Bureau of Labor Statistics and the Public Interest Research Group (PIRG) from 2022, Marylanders saved $899 million by opting for computer repairs compared to making new purchases and diverted 135 tons of e-waste otherwise bound for landfills or incineration.

If it’s determined that repairing your computer is not an option, Data Flow offers refurbished computers for sale, saving those units from becoming part of the excessive e-waste accumulating in the environment where dangerous toxins leak into the atmosphere, poisoning the ecosystem. The issue of sustainability as a byproduct of their business model is not lost on the Brunson’s. They are well aware of the ecological downside of used computer disposal which incentivizes them to expand their repair and refurbishment operations.

According to Hazardous Waste Haulers Environmental Company: “The US produces an average of more than 1,700 pounds of food, plastic, and hazardous waste per person [per year]. At that rate, 5% of the world’s population, [Americans], generates 40% of the world’s waste.” In addition, a March 2024 CNN report revealed that “global electronic waste has reached record highs and is growing five times faster than [comparable] rates of recycling.” The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency warns that these pollutants “can cause cancer, reproductive and developmental problems, damage to the immune system, and can interfere with hormones, accumulating in food chains which concentrates mainly in the fatty tissue.”

Your Turn:

The Brunsons’ journey shows us that sometimes, the best business ideas come from combining seemingly unrelated experiences. If you’re still on the hunt for your big idea, consider this: What unique combination of skills have your various jobs given you? Perhaps you have customer service expertise from retail and technical knowledge from an IT job. Or maybe you’ve gained project management skills and industry-specific insights. Your one-of-a-kind blend of experiences could be the recipe for a successful business. Don’t underestimate the power of your professional past – it might just be the springboard to your entrepreneurial future.

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Sustainable Technology For A Greener Future: Data Flow Computers

Sustainable Technology For A Greener Future: Data Flow Computers

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