The Big Interview – Jake Fyalka

The Big Interview is an occasional column where we catch up with Raglan’s local movers and shakers. This week we spoke to Raglan Area School IT technician and rubbish crusader, Jake Fyalka.

Ok let’s start from the beginning, Jake, because there are so many new people in town who don’t know your story.

Where were you born and raised?

I was born in Tacoma, Washington and spent the first 25 years of my life near there.

When did you come to Raglan?

I came to New Zealand March 23 2002.  I was in Raglan the same day I landed.

How did you end up choosing Raglan as the place to settle?

I came to Raglan because I had a job lined up here.  I met someone in Tacoma who was a friend of a friend. He had a very successful internet service provider in the states and was moving to Raglan to start up an ISP here.  He was aware of my skillset and offered me a job in Raglan.  He had a kiwi business partner named Kate and the two of them formed a business called RaglanNet.  We ended up renting out the old lawnmower shop which is now Fallenfront.  The website still exists:

Tell us about your role at the RAS school? What does it involve?

My job at Raglan Area School is the IT Technician.  It involves maintaining a 6 server 250 computer network.  Also, I support teachers, and students’ learning.

What’s great about your role there and working at the local Area School. What has been achieved there over the years in terms of technology progress?

People are the greatest thing. Raglan’s student population is eclectic, and so much is expected from us at the school as far as our jobs go.  I really enjoy my job – it is always different and dynamic.  Progress as far as technology goes: our infrastructure is sound and we have over 30 wireless access points throughout the school with a fibre backbone pumping out 100 megabit internet that fully blankets the school.  Our surf academy offers digital coaching using filming and overlays of professional surfing.  Our photography department teaches off Adobe Creative Suite with Lightroom and Photoshop. In our junior area we have been working with Google Docs, Chromebooks and tablets.  The school, as always, is a challenge with so many different levels of learning.

Additionally, you have an IT business and help out many local businesses. What came first, teaching or the business?

Do you enjoy this line of work?

I love my job.  I really enjoy helping people, and I hope they do appreciate the hard work it takes to maintain such a changing business, as Raglan Computer Services has to be in order to stay profitable

in such a small town.  The school was one of my first clients and the principal before Mr Cox hired me from RaglanNet. When I was first hired I worked 30 hours at RaglanNet and 20 hours a week at school. One of the deals at the school was that my time could be made up if I had to take care of an emergency in town.

We are always impressed with how quickly you respond and rescue us. How much of your time does this business take? 50-70 hours a week, including school.

You were involved in the notice board? How did this come about? What was the experience like of managing this?

It wasn’t me that started it, but I did help maintain the early parts of the Raglan Notice Board on Facebook.  I volunteered to be an admin and from that things just kind of took off. We got to help a ton of people on the board, but it was soul destroying some days. I decided the stress wasn’t worth it and to move on. I now only help with computer questions and IT support.

I’ve also heard that you are offering computer education to community members. What does that involve?

I had an offer from Nenya at Xtreme Zero Waste to do some adult education at the Community House as a paid job a few years ago (we’re into our third year now). After six months it became pretty obvious that the class wasn’t really what the community needed so I quit billing and getting paid for the job and instead did it for free. Now the class is more like a support group that I head. We all meet on Thursdays at 2pm at the Community House. We spend the hour fixing people’s problems, helping people with every day IT questions that they don’t understand, like how to use internet banking, how to use their phones, and how to order things online. It’s ever-changing and really rewarding. The Community House is an awesome place, and I’m pretty proud of what we’ve accomplished there.

And you’d think that would be enough on your plate, Jake, but I also hear that you trap rats in your spare time. Tell me about this. What’s involved? Why do you do it?

It was Facebook again. I was pretty tired of listening to the moaning about 1080 and one day challenged people to stop complaining and put work into the alternatives instead.  I asked Bexie online and kept bugging her until she made a line from the bush park to the kite boarding beach for me.  It takes a couple of hours a month and this month I got 12 rats in my 16 traps. I was slack this month and hadn’t checked my traps in 5 weeks and 5-week-old dead rats are pretty gross, but still the job has to be done.  I’ve killed a couple of stoats as well in my traps and that is about as rewarding as it gets.

When did family come along for you? How do you balance all these undertakings with family life?

We started having kids at 35.  Family is always number one and being able to work at different times has really helped us succeed.  I also have an amazing woman who is a great mum and teaches at the school. Our schedule gives us tons of time to be with our sons. Having Marcus help me as well, has been great for business – having someone you can trust shouldering some of the load helps heaps.

What are you really passionate about for this community and where would you like to see improvement?

The school is number one always for me. After that I’d have to say the people in general.  I can’t think anything really needs improvement. I think change is the last thing Raglan needs.  I think we need to spend more time respecting what is already here instead of always thinking of how we can better something so close to perfection.

If you could go back would you do anything differently ?

Not much, I really like where Ive ended up, everything happens for a reason.

What are your plans for the future? Any other projects on the go?

I just want to be the best dad I possibly can, teaching my sons that the can make a difference to his surrounding environment.   As for other projects, I have been helping Lee Knight clean up SH23, as its disgusting.   I don’t think I can squeeze much more into my life as far as other projects of my own go, nearly every day is full.  If I could make another day happen in the week Id love to take up cheffing.  I love preparing food for people and don’t know why but I think most IT people dream of being a chef in another life.  This school holidays Im going to learn how to be a better baker

(See next week’s issue for a full story on the rubbish clean up crew).