The Silicon Valley Voice

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3-Alarm Fire Destroys Local Family-Owned Business

A Santa Clara-based family-owned business has started the slow process of rebuilding after a 3-alarm fire destroyed one of its locations. Central Computers’ Sunnyvale location was destroyed in the early morning hours of April 22.

“It was all kind of in a jumble. I heard from employees and other staff members and I came down here,” said Chester Yeung, who now helps run the company his father founded. “I was out here for half the day, especially in the evening when they were doing demolition…The roof was gone, just the walls were up and there’s nothing really supporting the walls; it’s basically a safety hazard so it had to be brought down.”

The Yeung family owned both the business and the property and so Yeung is not sure what will happen next.

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“We’ll try to get through the insurance settlement stuff and try to figure out how quickly we can rebuild and reopen the store here,” said Yeung. “There’s maybe some possibility that we’ll do a temporary store here in the area. I suppose it’s also possible that we’ll keep the store, but it will move to a different location. I’m not entirely sure right now.”

Central Computers was started in 1986 in Santa Clara by Yeung’s father.

“[My dad] started it when we were living in a two bedroom apartment in what used to be the Family Tree Apartments [on] Kiely across the street from Central Park,” said Yeung. “He used to order computer parts from suppliers, mostly from Taiwan. He’d stack it up ceiling height in this two bedroom apartment and put together orders, put together PCs and ship them around the country.”

Yeung’s father eventually decided to try out a retail location and purchased a shop on Kiely Boulevard.

“[My dad] changed the name, bought the first location [on] Kiely by Homestead, across the street from Central Park and changed the name to Central Computers,” said Yeung. “The Central was basically because we were across the street from Central Park and it just made sense.”

Aside from the Sunnyvale location, Central Computers has four other stores in the Bay Area — San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Clara, and Newark.

“I feel really bad when I read stories of businesses…it’s their one location of business [and] the entirety of their business burned down,” said Yeung. “For them, that’s a catastrophic thing…whereas for us, we have other locations and we were able to absorb our employees into other locations…We can’t service our retail customers who don’t want to drive over to Santa Clara or up to San Mateo, but a lot of the corporate customers, there’s no reason why we can’t provide the same services, products that we have out of this office.”

Many customers have stopped to take a look at the damage. One man said, he’ll continue to make his way to Central Computers.

“I was here last week, so I drive by today and I was shocked,” said Kevin as he surveyed the damage. “I did a double take…[It’s a] good store. I’ll be going to the other locations. They have good stuff. It’s one of my go to places.”

“The fortunate thing is that nobody was hurt and it’s just property,” said Yeung. “We really appreciate the fact that the damage was limited to our property and that they prevented it from spreading over to anybody else. We feel bad losing our own business, but we would have felt terrible if it compromised anybody else from being able to do their work.”

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