Rick Sutherland: Clicking on Success
By James Florence, Diamond Certified Resource Reporter
CAMPBELL — Following a successful career in the tire business, Rick Sutherland decided to start from scratch in an entirely new industry. “I started in the tire retail business when I was a teenager and worked my way up to being a co-owner of a chain, which my partner and I subsequently grew to 25 Bay Area locations,” he recounts. “After selling my company in 1999, I found myself retired at 43 years old. After about six months, I realized I needed to get involved in something else.”
As he mulled over his options, Rick narrowed in on what he perceived to be an opportunity in the computer service field. “As someone who’d been using computers for a long time, I’d always felt there was a lack of support for consumers and small businesses when it came to their technology needs, so I thought that might be a good business to get into. I started out by hiring one technician, and since then, I’ve grown the business and expanded to more than 25 locations in six states.”
Today, as owner of ClickAway, Rick says his favorite part of his job is keeping score. “For me, running a business is like running a sports team, with sales and productivity being our scoreboard. In both sports and business, staying competitive is key, which is why I put a lot of effort into analyzing growth and motivating our team to keep going. It’s just fun for me to watch our team succeed and put up good numbers on the scoreboard.”
A resident of Los Gatos (where he lives with his wife, Lani), Rick expresses his appreciation for life in the Bay Area. “I’ve had the opportunity to travel to a lot of different places in the world, and there’s no place like here,” he affirms. “We live a really lucky lifestyle, with a vastly diverse topography and culture, all topped off with amazing weather. You can’t beat it!”
Outside of work, Rick engages in a variety of active pastimes, most of which take place on two wheels. “I enjoy mountain biking with friends on local trails and going on motorcycle trips to places like Tahoe,” he says. “I also raced cars for 20 years and still have a passion for it, as well as a small collection of cars.” Additionally, Rick enjoys keeping up with his grown son and daughter, who are pursuing their own careers in New York and Washington, D.C., respectively.
In his life and career, Rick espouses the virtue of practicing the Golden Rule. “Whether it’s my employees, customers, friends or family, I try to treat others like I’d want to be treated,” he affirms. “When it comes to customers, this means giving them the best possible service and quality, which actually ends up being good for business since people are willing to pay for an honest service that brings a good value. So, as long as we continue to do that, it just makes our job more fun and rewarding.”
When asked the first thing he’d do if he were to retire (again) tomorrow, Rick says he’d do some traveling. “The responsibility of running a business makes it hard to be away for very long, so I’d take the opportunity to visit my son in New York and my daughter on the East Coast.”
Ask Me Anything!
Q: What’s the most death-defying feat you’ve ever attempted?
A: Trying to qualify for a race back when I was racing cars. When you’re on the qualifying lap, it’s all or nothing, so you’re on the edge in every corner—one false move and you could wind up smashed into the guard rail.
Q: What was your first car?
A: A 1959 Chevrolet Bel Air.
Q: What’s your favorite local restaurant?
A: Plumed Horse in Saratoga.
Q: What’s your favorite book?
A: “The One Minute Manager” by Ken Blanchard and Spencer Johnson.
Q: What’s your favorite snack?
A: French fries.