SandStorm IT’s (and TC-PC’s) 25th Anniversary

08/20/2018 | by Doyle Sanders

SandStorm 25th

This year, 2018, marks a major milestone in the existence of SandStorm IT.  It is our 25th year of operation!  How is that, you say?  Lets look at some of our history to get the full picture.  SandStorm IT is actually the combination of two separate companies, TC-PC and SandStorm Innovations, that came together in late 2014.

TC-PC was founded in 1993 by Clay and Greg Gilbreath.  Let’s read the account from the words of Clay Gilbreath, one of the founders of TC-PC:

“The founder of the company was a 1980’s GMC pickup truck.  Greg and I had been talking about the potential for a computer company for a while, and dad (Billy Gilbreath) had given us this truck with camper in lieu of a Christmas bonus.  We decided to take these 2 items and sell them as startup cash.  I believe we got $600 and bought the business license for Tipton County PC Services in late 1993.  It was a partnership at first, operating in the back of Butler’s Garage.  Soon after founding we decided to go with initials and added flair of a gratuitous dash: TC-PC.  Reasoning was we knew another Tipton County business used initials, TC Vinyl Siding (a gas customer at Butler’s), and they were doing well.  Another reason was we wanted to reach beyond Tipton County and thought it would be wise to move to initials only.  Somewhere after that we formed an LLC: TC-PC, LLC.  Somewhere after that we went incorporated: TC-PC, Inc.

Our first Quarter of sales was…. Wait for it…. $60.00.  3 months = $60 bucks in sales.  Seriously.

Somewhere early on a certain executive got us some 250mb HDs on the cheap, from a parts store company in Memphis.

When we moved to the Gilbreath Tire & Muffler location in Covington, still operating on the side as we ran that business, it really took off and we started growing.  We hung a shingle out front of the tire store, and had computers displayed among the tires in our showroom.

Greg and I purchased the retail location at 210 Highway 51 N in Covington around 1996, I believe, and we moved into our own location.  It was soon after that we both became full time computer guys.  I believe George Planas was our first employee.  Others were the teenage Justin Oliver (Editor’s Note: Justin is now Vice President of Enterprise Technologies for SandStorm IT), Jack Ollis, Elena LaRue. 

FYI, in 2009 we made the risky move of leaving retail and moving to the “shed” we built in Burlison.  Of course, the economy took a hit about that time, so I believe it was God’s blessing to let us trim some fat.  At the time we had Justin & John Hammett.  We hired Josh (Yarbrough) sometime after John left, and about a year before the SSI/TCPC merger Matt (Ballard) came on board.  (Editor’s Note: Greg accepted the Call as full-time Pastor at Madison Baptist Church in 2013).

I managed to get back the very first new computer we ever sold – a 386/40MHz.  …  It was sold to a young man who later became a missionary to China for 10+ years.  He is back here now and pastoring in the area.  Last time I tried, it booted up.

I believe we also have the very first government bid computer we ever got:  a 486 66MHz with 16mb of RAM, a real powerhouse in the day.  Sold it to Lauderdale County E911 and the late Jonathan Gay.”

Now the story behind SandStorm Innovations…

“As Doyle was preparing for his imminent “retirement” from a “parts store in Memphis”, Doyle, Jordan & Jake Sanders formed SandStorm Innovations, LLC in 2010.  Once Doyle “retired”, SandStorm Innovations’ first customer was another small IT company that needed assistance establishing a project management process for their projects.  Then, in summer of 2012, Jordan left his job of about 6 years as Lead Developer for the aforementioned small IT company and made the leap to working full-time with SandStorm Innovations.  Then in 2014, Jake left the aforementioned “parts store in Memphis” where he had worked for 6 years, the last 5 as a Transportation Engineer.

SandStorm Innovations was formed because Doyle, Jordan, and Jake wanted to take their knowledge and experiences gained from the corporate world and apply them to provide a full range of software and support services for small to medium-sized businesses.  Their goals included providing technology expertise to small to medium-sized businesses that either can’t afford full-time IT staff or just don’t understand what they truly need.  This included providing professionally designed, developed, and hosted websites to represent their organizations on the internet as well as providing custom software solutions and software integrations.  Additionally, SandStorm Innovations provided On-Demand staff augmentation, allowing customers to ramp up their software work for periods of time without having to make permanent hires.”

These histories get more interesting around 2012 to 2013 when both TC-PC and SandStorm Innovations began noticing that each company had customers who needed services provided by the other company — TC-PC had customers who needed website and software assistance and SandStorm Innovations had customers who needed help with their computers, servers, and networks.  We began to collaborate on a few customers and soon realized that we could gain a lot of synergies and efficiencies if we combined the two organizations.  (Full disclosure, the Gilbreaths and the Sanders are related and have known each other since the early 1980s.  Greg and Clay’s Mother, Annette, actually introduced her niece, Lynn, to Doyle and they married in 1982.)

So in late 2014, TC-PC and SandStorm Innovations merged to become SandStorm IT.  The benefits to our customers were almost immediate with the streamlined combination of a complete, full service, A-to-Z, IT company to provide services to hundreds of small to medium-sized business in Tipton, Lauderdale, Fayette, Haywood, and Shelby Counties, as well as Northern Mississippi, and companies in Columbus, Ohio; Washington D.C.; and Jackson, Wyoming.  SandStorm IT also serves a retail customer with locations throughout the greater Southeastern part of the United States (from Tennessee to Arkansas, Kentucky, Ohio, Georgia, Texas, Oklahoma, Missouri, Mississippi, Georgia, Alabama, and then some).

Since 2015, SandStorm IT has seen incredible growth for a small company that began in 1993 in the back office of Butler’s Muffler Shop in tiny Burlison, Tennessee.  We have experienced double digit percentage growth every year and as we tell our story and what we have to offer to others, we fully expect that to continue.

This growth is due, in large part, to the outstanding members of our team who have done a fantastic job of putting our customers’ needs first.  We have been, and will continue to be, committed to providing outstanding service in a very personal fashion.  We know our customers’ names, and they know ours.  We like it that way.  We’re not some faceless, nameless entity.  Since nearly all of our team members live in Tipton County, we build relationships with our customers, we see them in the local Wal-Mart, Kroger, and restaurants.  We go to church with them.  Our kids go to the same schools.  We are local and serve local, even when local may be a few miles away.

We believe the success of SandStorm IT is due in large part to the legacy of TC-PC and its founders, Clay and Greg Gilbreath, as well as the timing of the founding of SandStorm Innovations, by Doyle, Jordan, and Jake Sanders.  We believe that God has guided these companies, as evidenced by the Call of both Greg and Clay into full-time ministry (Greg as Pastor of Madison Baptist Church in Jackson and Clay as the Director of Missions for the Big Hatchie Baptist Association in Covington) while permitting us to continue the mission of SandStorm IT.

So, we are proud to be a part this team and look forward to continuing to provide service and value to all of our customers, and great jobs in our local communities.

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