Teen's computer curiosity turns into home business

February 04, 2005|by WANDA T. WILLIAMS

Editor's note: The Next Generation is a series of stories highlighting young people in the Tri-State area. A story will run every Friday.

SMITHSBURG - Ryan Deal has been fascinated with computers and electronics since he was 5 years old.

His mother, Teresa Deal, said Ryan was born with a curiosity that made him want to take everything apart.

"He'd take the electronic remotes to his toys apart," Teresa Deal recalled.

What started out as curiosity has turned into a passion for the 16-year-old who spent $2,000 to open Pentester Technologies, a home-based computer repair company.

"I do Web posting, Web site design, Internet marketing and computer repair," Ryan Deal said.

Throughout his childhood, Ryan spent long hours dissecting his computer's brain while other boys his age were playing with trucks and toy soldiers.


"He would take stuff apart, but he'd also put it back together and it would work," his mother said.

She said Ryan also helps produce invoices for Deal's Home Remodeling, a local company owned by his father, Gerald Deal.

Ryan, who lives in Smithsburg, is a sophomore at Heritage Academy and helps manage the school's computer lab.

Jeff Gift, a parent volunteer at the school, took the time to provide Ryan with some additional computer repair training. Teachers and administrators say they've come to depend on his expertise.

"He's our troubleshooter," said Harold Miles, the school's principal. "When we have problems, we scream for Ryan. He's very knowledgeable about computers and he also does some programming and installation."

In fact, Deal's work is so good that he repairs computers throughout the school.

Sixth-grade teacher Lori Clark said Deal has helped her out of a bind on more than one occasion.

"He's able to work with adults on their level, but still show the respect of a 16-year-old student and he can differentiate between the two," Clark said.

Deal, who is a straight A student, said he dreams of attending Harvard Business School.

"I'll probably major in business and minor in information technology or something like that," he said.

When he's not studying, he's managing his computer repair company in the evenings and on Saturdays.

"Most of my customers are family and friends," Deal said.

He didn't make a profit last year, but hopes to do so this year.

He said most of his business involves reformatting hard drives that have crashed and repairing miscellaneous hardware damaged by power surges and computer viruses.

And while Deal's parents said they're proud of their son, they don't take full credit for his accomplishments.

"We give the credit to the Lord," Teresa Deal said.

Deal's Web address is

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