Old computers find 'redemption' at warehouse on city's East Side
E.J. Thomas knows for a fact that the world his 8-year-old daughter lives in is vastly different from the one in which his older children, a son just turned 30 and a daughter, 27, grew up.
For her, a mouse is part of a computer, a tool of education and entertainment that she's been using since before she entered kindergarten.
For them, a mouse was named Mickey, and no one played with daddy's old DOS.
Thomas is chief executive officer of Habitat for Humanity, Greater Columbus. It is one of 70 Ohio affiliates of the nonprofit organization founded by Millard Fuller in Georgia 33 years ago that builds simple housing for people too poor to qualify for conventional home loans.
At one time, in Thomas' view, sweat equity and a zero-interest mortgage were enough to ensure most partner families a shot at the American dream, but now he feels that equally important is "bridging the digital divide."
At one time, personal computers were viewed as luxury items, according to Thomas, but now they're just another necessary appliance, like a refrigerator or stove.
"The more 'techie' this country gets, the more crucial this becomes," Thomas said.
Founded in 1998 and with based on Leap Road near Hilliard, the subsidiary of Microelectronics Inc. provides redemption, of a sort, for outdated office computer systems of some major corporations, as well as a variety of other technological devices.
Since August 2006, Redemtech's repair, refurbishing and recycling operation has been based out of 155,000 square feet of warehouse space on Brookham Drive in Grove City. There, old computers are fixed up for immediate or later reuse, and sometimes for donation.
Under a partnership forged between Redemtech and Habitat for Humanity, Greater Columbus, refurbished computers are finding "redemption" in the homes the charity built for local families.
"We really see this as part of our core mission to ensure success for our partner families," Thomas said.
The program kicked off in late June with the donation of 75 refurbished computers.
Thomas is hoping to eventually put a PC in every one of the 3,000 homes Habitat has built in central Ohio since 1985, and eventually perhaps to take the program to a national or even international level.
"We're the pilot," he said.
Many of Redemtech's corporate clients already supported Habitat for Humanity through financial donations, according to Jill Vaske, vice president of sales. By opening up this new avenue of enabling clients to meet corporate responsibility initiatives, Redemtech is providing even more value to clients, she added.
"We know É
we increase our value to corporate clients by helping them be more creative with the e-waste," Vaske said.
"To help more Habitat families, Redemtech plans to work with its corporate clients to establish a sustainable flow of refurbished PCs for donation," stated a press release announcing the new partnership.
Redemtech officials are very supportive of the mission of Habitat for Humanity, Vaske said.
The computers already donated to Habitat for Humanity, Greater Columbus, were from Redemtech's "Red Rabbitt" brand.
Aside from the purposeful misspelling, the brand name is something of a marketing ploy.
"Our corporate color is red," said Robert Houghton, president and founder of Redemtech, "and we wanted to donate speed and multiplicity."