Charles and JoAnn Gardner incorporated Sterling Ideas Inc on June 30, 1999, but its real history started much earlier than that.
Charles’ interest in computers began at an early age. His father taught him not to be afraid of taking something apart to look at it. Even as a preschooler, Charles would sit on his father’s lap and “help” take apart cameras, examine the pieces, and put them back together again. A few years later, his mother surprised him with his first computer, a TRS-80. Then, like almost every child in the 80’s, he had a Commodore-128 for gaming. As Charles grew up, so did the technological world, and he saw the potential of the computer industry to not only provide for his young family but also help businesses thrive. This permission to examine and explore, lovingly given by his parents, sparked an entrepreneurial spirit within Charles that never left him.
That spirit had to wait, however. As a young husband and new father, Charles worked for several large, reputable companies to make ends meet. Then, in the summer of 1999, he decided it was the right time to start his own business, and it seemed fitting to the Gardners to honor their firstborn son Sterling by naming the company Sterling Ideas.
The beginning was hard. The phone didn’t ring. There weren’t any clients. No one was knocking down the door to hire Sterling Ideas. In fact, one company Charles taught for went bankrupt and left its instructors (including Charles) with thousands of dollars of unpaid pay. It was devastating to a family with young children, but it wasn’t the end of the story. Charles kept at it, running the company alone for almost two full decades, acquiring clients through honest business practices with integrity, hard work, and many late nights. It is a badge of honor that most of his original clients are still on the books today.
Charles’ desire has always been to help other businesses succeed. He’s always known that efficient IT services which protect clients’ data is a critical catalyst to small business success. As he has always believed small businesses to be the backbone of this great country, he worked hard to make sure his clients thrived.
In 2018, Sterling graduated from the University of Florida and joined his father at the family business, and Charles finally had someone to work alongside and share the day-to-day demands. Since then the team has continued to grow, but the foundations of the company remain the same: honest business practices, integrity, hard work. With these values come success.