Filling the Computer Services Need

After working together at another local company, Nathanael McDaniel and his business partner decided to go into business for themselves to form a web design/software development company. Although that endeavor was hit or miss for the past few years, the two began to get bigger clients began to look for a place to set up permanent shop.So when Jensen Computers left their mainstay at 511 South Main Street in Petal to focus on work at the Petal School District, McDaniel and his partner knew they had found the perfect location. That resulted in the August 16 founding of Boone Studios, Petal’s newest professional computer services business.  McDaniel recently took time over the phone to answer some questions about his business and what it means to be a new entrepreneur in the City of Petal.

Petal Area Chamber of Commerce: What kind of services do you offer?

McDaniel: We don’t only offer just computer repair and the standard stuff that one would expect in a computer repair shop. We cater to customers in our software division for geospatial imagery, e-commerce – basically anything. We develop mobile apps, desktop apps, websites, anything like that. And in this location, we offer computer repair and training services, so if you have any questions about technology, or you want to learn how to use certain services like Facebook or anything like that, we show you how to do it.

Q: Being a new business in the city, what made you want to join the Petal Area Chamber of Commerce, and what benefits have you seen from that membership so far?

A: I actually have been familiar with (chamber director) Mrs. Valerie Wilson for a couple of years, and our former business partner was Will Smith, and we actually met her through him. When he passed away … we had to look at what we could gain from either trying to do all of the sales ourself, or trying to join an organization in the community. At the time, it really wasn’t a viable option for us, because I was really doing all the work out of my house, but when we got this business location, I knew that it would be beneficial for us to grow and to meet other businesses and individuals that sponsor the chamber.

Q: Although you’ve only been in this location since August, has Petal’s moniker as The Friendly City proven true to you as a business owner?

A: So far. I’ve lived in Petal my whole life, and it’s kind of funny because when people come in here, they always talk about how friendly the Jensens were and how friendly their service was. When they closed, one of them had to go out to west Hattiesburg for business, and some customers have noted that it’s like night and day – businesses around here are a lot nicer and they’re a lot friendlier. I’m not saying anything bad about Hattiesburg – I love Hattiesburg – but we have people come from west Hattiesburg that would rather come here than there.

Q: What do you see for the future of your business here in Petal?

A: I do like the location we’re in, and we plan on getting the location outright. But instead of moving out of state like we could – we have an office location in Pensacola and another one in north Mississippi – I would much rather build our two-story or three-story office building here in Petal. I would rather stay here; that’s our future. We would rather keep individuals in the city, or keep individuals in the state because Mississippi is well-known for its brain drain. I know a lot of people that I went to high school or college with that want to get into this industry … and we’re hoping to provide that here.

I Can See Clearly Now!

After being stationed in Meridian while serving in the United States Navy for seven years, Dr. Alvaro Moreno moved to Petal to work at Southern Eye Center in Hattiesburg. Moreno stayed at that clinic for seven years before opening his own establishment, Moreno Eye Care, in 2003 at 598 East Central Avenue in Petal.

The business offers comprehensive eye care services and in-demand lenses and frames. The eye doctors perform comprehensive vision examinations and specialize in the diagnosis and treatment of a wide array of eye diseases, conditions and problems.

Moreno recently took the time for a phone Q&A to talk about his practice and how he has fared in The Friendly City.

Petal Chamber: What made you want to establish your business in Petal?

Moreno: I live there, and my home was there in Petal. I wanted to be more of a part of the community, instead of driving to Hattiesburg to work every day.

Q: How has being in Petal worked out so far?

A: It’s been great; people have been very supportive, and not just Petal people, but people from the surrounding communities. They’ve supported our practice and our growth, and I’m to the point now where my son is in practice with me. He joined the practice last year, so he’s in his second year of being in practice there at the office.

Q: You’ve been a member of the Petal Area Chamber of Commerce since you established the business. How has that benefited you, and what advice on joining the chamber would you give to new businesses or anyone considering joining?

A: I think (it’s great) just being part of an organization that’s banding together for the good of the community – and not just the community itself, but for the businesses in the community, to help and support each other. That helps everybody be able to make it through any kind of crisis.

Q: You mentioned that business has been great since coming to Petal. What do you attribute that to?

A: I think, for one, since there wasn’t an optometrist or an eye clinic in Petal, there was some pent-up demand. People didn’t have an option; they had to get in their car and drive to Hattiesburg. As Hattiesburg grew and traffic became more of an issue and people got older, they were looking for somebody to be able to do it in Petal. So I think that helped my growth, just being accessible and being close so people wouldn’t have to go to Hattiesburg to get their eyes taken care of.

Q: What do you see in the future for business in general, and for your business?

A: For business in general in Petal, I’ve always said that we need more business in Petal; we need larger businesses in Petal. The main thing I’ve said since the day I opened up my practice in Petal is that our most valuable resource (clients and customers) is cranking up and driving across the river every day. If you go look at some of the businesses in Hattiesburg, some of their best employees – if you really dig down and look – they’re from Petal, or went to Petal High School. They’re Petal people, and they’re in Hattiesburg. My wish is to one day have it to where everybody who didn’t want to drive to Hattiesburg could find a job and make a living wage in Petal. I’m sure that most of them, if they had a choice, would probably stay in Petal.