Zac Huntley is a fairly familiar face in the area, especially since he recently finished his campaign to run for state representative. But before he was a politician, Huntley began his own business, Freshly Cut Media, back in 2015. And it is still growing.
Huntley says he has been tinkering with computers since his parents, J.R. and Ann Huntley, gave him his first computer in high school. And actually, that is where Huntley says his business really began.
"I took things apart and put them back together, I pretty much Googled how to do things to my own computer," says?Huntley. "And once I had the hang of some things, I started helping others with virus removal and other basic software issues. Most of my skills came from crowd source knowledge forums that I found online."
Then, that little hobby grew and grew and by the time he was getting ready to leave for college, Huntley was already making a fairly good impact on a consumer base in Blue Earth.
Huntley then headed off to college in South Dakota at the University of Sioux Falls where he double majored in marketing and social work and minored in graphic design.
Huntley says although he is not technically using any of his degrees in the specific field they were meant for, he says with Freshly Cut Media he is combining them all together.
Once he graduated, he continued working with the IT crowd, working full time at a bank close to home. It was then that one of his more major projects came along for him which, ultimately, is how Freshly Cut Media originated.
In the summer of 2015, both Truman's school and the Southern Plains Education group asked Huntley for his expertise in assisting them with their technology issues at their schools.
"It was probably one of the biggest things I've undertaken," says Huntley. "I really had to take a step back and figure out what I wanted to do."
Huntley said he decided having a full time job at a bank and taking on the added IT?projects was too much, and he quit his position at the bank.
"I said I needed to make this idea of mine legitimate," says Huntley, and he immediately began piecing together his own business.
His office is located in the Main Street mini mall, tucked in the back. A simple door and a simple sign greet any customer, but once inside Huntley's office, it is plain to see this gadget guru has truly made his own space look spectacular.
With a modern look, a welcoming sitting area, and plenty of space to do both creative and handy work, Huntley's business is no longer just an idea.
Freshly Cut Media is a one-stop location for any media needs including web design, graphic design, consumer and business IT, and even DJ services with full uplighting available.
"I never thought I would be adding DJ-ing to my repertoire, but my wife and I found that if I purchased music equipment and DJ-ed our own wedding, it would actually be cheaper if not about the same price range as hiring a DJ. So, we invested in the equipment and set it up and just played music to enjoy our wedding and once people saw what I did there, the word just kind of spread," says Huntley.
As a matter of fact, Huntley's entire business, so far, has been strictly word of mouth when it comes to new customers.
"The work that I do comes from an enjoyment of problem solving and helping people," says Huntley. He says he has a regular customer base of about 30 to 35 clients and has had around 80 customers in his almost two years of business. Huntley says that is an indication business is pretty good.
Huntley says there are three components to him that makes his business as successful as it is.
"I love to learn and I hate admitting defeat, for one," jokes Huntley. "But really, it's because I actually enjoy it. I enjoy learning new things, I enjoy tinkering and problem solving, and I enjoy helping people. The whole thing, all of the production components, the graphic design, I just love to do it."
He loves it so much, in fact, that he has helped Blue Earth's First Presbyterian Church with its electronics and sound system since 2010, which is when they became the first church in Blue Earth to have a projection screen and equipment.
"It doesn't seem like a big deal now, but it was a huge deal at the time, and I love doing all of that sound work. I've put lots of funds into that project and I am so proud of what I've been able to accomplish for the church," says Huntley.
And he actually has a little bit of hired help to assist him while Freshly Cut?Media is still growing. Garrett Albers, a junior at Blue Earth Area High School, comes in at an as-needed basis to assist Huntley with IT projects and setting up and tearing down of equipment for performances and consultations.
"He came to me, actually. He asked if there was any way he could be of assistance, he's really into computer tech sciences and I said sure," shares Huntley.
The duo work pretty well together according to Huntley. He does his best to mentor and shadow Albers as he learns the ropes
of virus removal, other software difficulties, and after three DJ-ing gigs, Huntley says Albers is getting the hang of set up and tear downs as well.
"He definitely helps me stay on top of things. That's the hard part about being your own boss: you have to hold yourself accountable, and you are constantly on call, so Garrett's help is very much appreciated," he says.
Ultimately, Huntley says he wants to make sure his customers and his colleagues are treated as a person and not a number.
In a world filled with IT?solution groups, Huntley says he is sad to see so many people be manipulated by over-the-top pricing for simple solutions to computer concerns. And as far as media design goes, he says he has his own fresh flare to add to the already teeming graphic design community that is based in the Blue Earth area.
Huntley shares an important quote from Steve Jobs, co-founder, chairman, and chief executive of Apple Inc.:
"Everything around you that you call life was made up by people that were no smarter than you and you can change it, you can influence it, you can build your own things that other people can use."
Huntley says it is not only an important quote for his business, but important for all entrepreneurs to understand.
"Everybody has the ability to make the world a better place. It's a choice to make the world around you better, and I take that responsibility head on everyday."