Zach Sparks

Chris Mathews has a passion for fixing things, whether he is engaging in plumbing or electrical projects around his house or repairing a radiator. But in 1997, it was Mathews who needed to be fixed after a head-on collision on Duvall Highway left him with two broken legs, a broken hip and pelvis, and two shattered knees.

During his recovery, Chris focused his talents on fixing computers, and he quickly realized he needed to upgrade his working space. “A neighbor thought I was a drug dealer,” Chris recalled. “So many people came in and out of the house with boxes … I kept parts in the kitchen cabinet and my wife said, ‘This needs to stop. I don’t have a place to put groceries.’”

Chris and his wife, Michelle, opened Bay Area Computers in 2001. The business offers computer maintenance such as virus and spyware removal, and screen and motherboard repairs. They also fix other electronics, including power jacks, game systems, telephones and iPads. Once, Chris even resurrected an animated Elvis lamp for a customer. “The animated Elvis would sing and his arms moved in all different directions. The motor burned up, and it ran on the same motor as a Colgate Spinbrush,” he laughed.

When customers walk into Bay Area Computers, they are greeted by a sign adorned on the wall that says, “Rule 1: If we don’t take care of our customers, someone else will.” Customer service is the utmost priority, and to prove they care about their patrons, Bay Area Computers does not charge for diagnostic tests.

“If we can’t fix it, you don’t have to pay,” Chris said. “There is a flat rate. I haven’t raised my prices in 10 years.”

In addition to Bay Area Computers, Chris and Michelle also own Bay Area Hobbies, which offers remote controlled (RC) trucks, boats, helicopters, drones and other vehicles.

“We even carry entry-level products, so mom and pop don’t have to spend a fortune,” Chris explained. “We have waterproof items, and if you break something, we have the parts to fix it. So you’re not stuck with one scenario.”

As much as Chris loves working in the shop, he also enjoys testing his RC vehicles with his son in the backyard of their home. They are active with the No Limits RC of Maryland racing group. Chris also supports area youth in other ways. Bay Area Computers has donated funds to the St. Jane Frances School golf tournament, and Chris has taught kids about computers.

“Everyone wants to make their area a better place to live,” Chris said. “Why wouldn’t I help?”

Chris said the shop has been busy and he expects the business to grow marginally in the future. To learn more about Bay Area Computers, visit the shop at 8475 Fort Smallwood Road, call 410-360-7545 or visit Hours are Monday through Thursday from 10:00am to 6:30pm, Friday from 10:00am to 8:00pm, Saturday from noon to 5:00pm and Sunday by appointment only.

“I will never be rich [financially],” Chris admitted. “But by working with computers, I am doing what I love, and that makes me rich.”

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