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Digital Brigade marches in with computer-service business

Resident Rueben Herfindahl plans to open a branch of his computer-service company in a River Falls Main Street storefront. <i>Debbie Griffin photo</i>

Reuben Herfindahl, an 18-year resident of River Falls, said he expects to open the Main Street retail location for his 10-year-old business, Digital Brigade, by September.

"This is our first retail store front," he said.

Digital Brigade started out serving only businesses and organizations but has expanded to include residential service. Herfindahl, who owns the company and is its lead engineer, said he wants to make residential service available at a price people can afford.

Except for a few years when Digital Brigade had workspace in Minneapolis, the company travels to its customers by appointment. The owner said technicians can also fix some problems and do other kinds of work remotely.

Pointing to how times have changed, he comments that at least 25% of the technical support provided is done by text message.

The company has five employees and as workload ebbs and flows, may have up to a dozen people working on a project. The owner says Digital Brigade provides a full spectrum of services, from complex business networking and technology to a drink-soaked laptop.

Herfindahl says the 'brigade' provides support and service for Macs and PCs, especially helping them communicate with each other.

"That's been a bit of a specialty area," Herfindahl said about the two different types of computers.

He and other employees might work on networking, conversions, updates, rollouts, hardware or software, installations, virus cleaning, broken computer parts, compatibility issues, printer repair and other issues. Herfindahl said the staff also helps people solve problems with their TV or other basic electronics.

The owner says the company offers a cloud-based backup solution, developed after realizing how people need the service and also -- aren't very good about doing it (backing up their computer).

He says the system Digital Brigade offers backup with no size limit.

Building the brigade

Hefindahl explains a backbone service of the business, "We are the IT department for small businesses"

He said the company can typically provide information technology (IT) services more quickly and inexpensively than an in-house IT person. Many companies don't necessarily need a full-time in-house person but rather to have the technology set up well and streamlined from the start.

Herfindahl said implementing best practices also helps keep things running most efficiently.

Digital Brigade, he says, works with all kinds of entities -- from small business to Fortune 500 companies, as well as school districts.

Though he can't name his business' whole client list, he reveals that everyone has been very busy lately working nights on a national rollout project for Arby's. Herfindahl also gives the example of a 'cold start' project his business did for a retail outlet in Northfield, Minn., and ongoing work for a charter school. Digital Brigade also serves local clients, including Clifton Hollow Golf club and Interfacial Solutions.

His high school only a few computers then, and Herfindahl ended up being one of the people who fixed them. The business owner got to know River Falls when he attended college here 18 years ago and pursued a degree in history.

He said the field of computer science then was not as well developed, with degrees offered only in computer programming.

Herfindahl believes that some of the skills he learned growing up on a farm translate to his current field, especially being resourceful and figuring out how to fix anything.

"We spend a lot of time on the front end making sure things work," said Herfindahl, adding that the company focuses on a person or company's 'big picture' in addition to whatever problem is at hand.

The business owner met his wife of 10 years, Carrie, when they both attended UW-River Falls. The two fell in love with the town and like many university graduates, decided to stay in River Falls.

They have three children -- two boys and a girl ages 10, 6 and 4.

Herfindahl said he worked in corporate IT before starting the company during an economic "boom" year.

When the shop is open with regular hours in early fall, the owner estimates they will be approximately 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. The owner says he's excited about bringing the business' retail shop to downtown River Falls and hopefully adding a needed service for people in the city and surrounding area.

Contact the business at or 612-242-0157.