Company Profile: Virtual Micro Technology

by Jeffrey Reed, Editor,

As Canadian commerce crawled out of the 1980s recession, and computer technology for the masses was in its infancy, two Londoners with roots halfway around the globe jumped feet first into a new business: Virtual Micro Technology.

That was in 1987, long before cloud storage had replaced the floppy disk. But Andy and Alice Ho knew that computer technology was exploding in popularity, and that it would continue to evolve. Today, 31 years later, the husband and wife team own and operate one of the longest-running independent computer sales and service stores in London.

Andy and Alice Ho

“When we chose to locate here at the corner of Oxford and Adelaide streets, people said we were crazy,” Alice said. “The plaza isn’t downtown. But we saw potential. There’s a lot of traffic, and we are halfway between Western University and Fanshawe College. So we just knew that this was the right place to be.”

In 1979 and speaking very little English, 20-year-old Andy had left his family in Hong Kong to pursue a university education. He had intended to return home with an engineering degree from Laurentian University in Sudbury. But it was on campus where he met Alice, whose high school class was touring the university. Alice and her family were refugees from Vietnam, and landed in Sudbury in 1981.

The couple were married in 1985, when Andy graduated with a major in Computer Sciences. They joined Alice’s family in a move to Toronto, where Andy was hired by computer company, Futuretron. Shortly afterwards, the company asked him to set up a store on Richmond Street in London.

But good-old entrepreneurship and a keen eye on technology saw the Ho family establish their own business which over the years has served consumers, small and medium businesses including medical and law offices, as well as large clients including school boards, 3M, General Motors, and both Western and Fanshawe faculties.

While sales and service of computers and notebooks remain the biggest parts of Virtual Micro’s day-to-day business for seven employees, other services including setting up Wi-Fi hotspots for restaurant chains, monitoring malware for business clients and even troubleshooting remotely over the Internet keep the London business on the cutting edge.

Alice said the secret to Virtual Micro’s longevity is a belief in its people, its products and its service – old-fashioned service rarely offered today.

“We sell people what they need, not just the highest-priced products. We spend time asking them what they’ll use their computer for, and we’ll recommend a laptop or a system that best fits their needs,” Alice said. “And with Andy monitoring Internet activity, and troubleshooting remotely, we cover all bases.

Andy said the sky’s the limit when it comes to computer technology of the future.

“Computer technology will continue to get faster,” he said. “The speed of today’s computer CPU (Central Processing Unit – the computer brain) is constantly updated. Devices will continue to get more user friendly. But on the business side, what’s important is network speed – the speed of everything in the office working quickly and efficiently together.”

The Ho family, including sons Colin, 30, Herrick, 26, and daughter Vanessa, 20, are fiercely proud of their small business which has had its fingers on the pulse of computer technology for more than 30 years. But according to Alice, not everyone looks for the same product or service.

Said Alice, “Younger people are part of a throwaway generation. If a laptop looks good, sounds good and is priced inexpensively, then they’ll buy it. And when it doesn’t work, they throw it away and buy a new one.”

For More Information:
Virtual Micro Technology
600 Oxford Street East
London, ONT

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About jeffreyreed

A leading Canadian communications professional. Corporate office established 1989.