THE IT FACTOR: Information technology worker brings passion for computers to utility provider

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Peyton Gant works on the servers at NineStar Connect. Gant is a network administrator for NineStar Connect.

Tom Russo | Daily Reporter

HANCOCK COUNTY – Peyton Gant headed into a break area at NineStar Connect’s campus north of Greenfield, where license plates from various states covered a wall and a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles arcade game stood in a corner.

The 23-year-old was fresh off spending about three and a half hours installing mapping software on about 20 employees’ computers in the utility cooperative’s engineering department.

It was another day at the office for the young IT worker, whose passion for computers began in childhood and continues through his career.

Gant is a network administrator for NineStar Connect, a Greenfield-headquartered cooperative that provides various utilities in and around Hancock County. He’s based at the co-op’s campus north of Greenfield, which offers plenty more arcade games for its employees as well as a 3-D printer room, virtual reality room and hallway coolers stocked with energy drinks.

As a network administrator, Gant works in internal information technology – IT – for NineStar. Much of his job is spent at his computer remoting into fellow NineStar employees’ machines to fix any issues they may be experiencing. Sometimes troubleshooting requires him to be onsite. He and his IT colleagues also set up new offices and ensure they have all their necessary connections. His team is made up of five members, including their manager.

“Basically we are in charge of the internal network,” Gant said. “Between all campuses we are in charge of pretty much the whole connection, making sure everything’s up and going.”

Gant grew up in Rush County.

“The blunt truth is I was never the best at high school or school in general,” he said. “There was only one thing I was good at, which was computers, and I think that’s just because when I was bored, I always played with computers. Taking them apart, putting them back together really got me into the whole aspect of computers, so that really pulled me into the IT career industry and I’ve been there ever since.”

The possibilities computers pose excite him, particularly when it comes to hardware. Gant enjoys upgrading his computer when new products come out and comparing them to their predecessors.

“What performance has changed?” he said. “What has gotten better? Just the statistics of things getting better each year is fun to me. I really enjoy seeing the progression of technology.”

Often gaming is what gets kids into computers, and while Gant’s passion for the machines eventually grew to include that, it wasn’t the catalyst. He has admired the late Apple founder Steve Jobs since childhood.

“A buddy of mine, we used to talk about how we wanted to be the next Apple,” he said. “We were just kids messing around trying to get into tech.”

Gant studied IT at a trade school in Connersville while in high school. But by that point he had already been tinkering with and building computers for so long that he found the class a bit basic, and even found himself helping his teacher at times.

He worked for the trade school briefly and then did an IT internship at a factory in Rushville as a 16-year-old. He also worked with Apple for Geek Squad before starting at NineStar Connect.

Working in IT is rarely routine, Gant said.

“Every day can be a completely new adventure is what I think keeps me excited about my job,” he said.

One day he could be working on tickets until it’s time to leave, and the next he could be on a campus installing new equipment, or spending all his time on an issue he can’t yet figure out.

A common misconception about IT is that problems come with quick solutions that specialists have used multiple times, Gant said.

“Most issues we have are typically new,” he said. “People think IT are just brainiacs most of the time and just know exactly what it is. There are a lot of times we know exactly what to do on some things. There’s times where we’re like, ‘I have no idea,’ we’re just trying things to get it to work. … That’s basically what troubleshooting is – just trying until we get it.”

Another misconception is that IT workers are antisocial. Gant, conversely, describes himself as a social butterfly.

“I like to talk to people, I like to just interact with people,” he said, adding he tries to say hi to as many fellow NineStar workers as he can. “It’s just nice to say hi to people, and it just makes the day better for everyone.”

That’s also part of the reason he enjoys working for his employer.

“You go to any corporation, yeah they may pay huge dollars for IT, but you’re a number,” he said. “The idea that I can come here and I walk down the hallway – people know my name – that makes a world of a difference, and I think the whole respect factor is a lot different in the smaller business versus a corporation. I just like that everyone knows each other, everyone’s more like a family here. It just makes the overall day a lot better.”