GETTING TECHNICAL: School tech company moving to Fortville

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FORTVILLE — A technology company two friends started in a cafe that’s gone on to gain clients across the country has moved to Hancock County.

Previously located in Noblesville, Secured Tech Solutions is now in the former Vernon Township trustee’s office in Fortville. The firm, which works with school corporations on needs concerning laptop computers and tablet devices for students, is drawn to its new spot for the small-town atmosphere with plenty of room to grow.

School technology device programs are often referred to as 1:1 — standing for one laptop or tablet for one student. Secured Tech Solutions, which had its three-year anniversary in November, works with such programs by providing services like device repairs and an accidental damage protection plan. The company also sells accessories like AC adapters, protective cases, charging parts and device parts. It buys back devices when school corporations are done with them as well.

Nate Holmes, president and co-founder of Secured Tech Solutions, said the company has about 20 employees and works with about 90 school corporations in Indiana. That includes the Mt. Vernon Community School Corporation, not far from the company’s new home in Fortville. Holmes added it also works with one to five school systems in 10 to 12 other states.

Chris Hawkins, chief revenue officer and co-founder, recalled how a friend and former partner of theirs stumbled into the 1:1 business through the small iPhone repair company he ran from his kitchen table. A school district had reached out to him and asked if he knew how to fix an iPad.

“And he said, ‘Yes,’ and Googled: ‘How do you fix an iPad?’” Hawkins said with a laugh.

That friend eventually brought Hawkins and Holmes on board, who saw the industry and ultimately decided to set out on their own.

They started in 2018 by taking phone calls and meetings in a Panera Bread in Carmel before scraping enough money together for their first office space in the city. The company later moved to Noblesville.

“Now we’re outgrowing the Noblesville building after a little under two years, and need a bigger space, and both of our hearts are kind of in small-town Indiana,” Holmes said. “I live five minutes away, and I love Fortville. We were looking for something that’s bigger now and also something that we can grow into.”

They found those qualities in the former trustee’s office at 700 W. Broadway St. The trustee’s office is now located in a former Hancock Health office at 602 Vitality Drive.

Holmes has a degree in secondary social studies education and Hawkins was mentoring youth for a nonprofit organization before Secured Tech Solutions started.

“Nate and I are not the most technical people, but we’re really good at identifying niche problems, and we identified very quickly that 1:1 technology was thrust upon schools … and just through being able to listen, we were able to identify so many common problems between schools,” Hawkins said.

One example of that is the company’s new revenue-sharing program that sells schools’ former student devices back to the community, taking that responsibility off school systems’ hands.

“It’s very easy for a superintendent to say, ‘We want to get the devices in the community,’ but the logistics of that are very difficult,” Hawkins said. “That wasn’t something that Nate and I set out to start — an e-commerce company. It’s just we identified that that was what the districts would love to be able to do, and basically we help empower them to be able to execute these programs from literally start to, in that case, finish.”

Florence May, Vernon Township trustee, said the township received two competitive bids for the property at 700 W. Broadway St. and accepted Secured Tech Solutions’ offer of $680,000.

“We’re going to get a tech company in Fortville, so that’s exciting,” May said.

The township bought the property under her predecessor’s administration for $500,000.

“So that’s a really good return on investment for the taxpayer,” she said.

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