Acme Computers and Cael Weston
By Gary VanDeWalker
Hyper LinkJanuary 2015
By Gary Vandewalker
Photos: Taryn Burkleo
In order to milk cows, Cael Weston used a machete to clear the jungle trail from his home to the back pasture. The 15-year-old found this a different life from his upbringing in Los Angeles and Texas, where his dad worked for Getty Oil. In search of a new life, his father had brought them to the rich, black soil of Costa Rica to establish a family dairy farm. The Irish-Catholic family of seven children left behind the comforts of the United States to embrace the life of a third-world country.
Acme Computers began in Siskiyou County from an unnatural birth. Weston’s experiences in Costa Rica, in the backrooms of newspapers and installing wire under mobile homes has led him to establish one of the top tech service companies in Northern California and Southern Oregon.
Weston loved Costa Rica. “The culture enchanted me, but a poor economy found me traveling back to California with my mother,” Weston says. They settled in an old family vacation spot, Redding. Weston graduated in 1982 from Enterprise High School and looked to Shasta College as the gateway to a new adventure.
As a journalism major, Weston worked for the Record Searchlight writing obituaries, weather and the occasional feature story. With the sale of his first story to the Associated Press, Weston moved on to Fresno State to complete his education. Working for the Fresno Bee, Weston
first got his taste of technology. “I had the tedious job of recording the high and low temperatures of 80 countries,” Weston says. “I discovered that by accessing a ‘user defined key,’ I could automate the whole process.” This gained the admiration of his employer, until it was discovered that Weston had been reading the New York Times at night on the fledging internet system, costing the paper $2,000.
Weston returned to Costa Rica, using his connections to write stories on the ongoing war in Nicaragua. Now married to his wife, Marcella, he longed to make his career succeed as his family grew. He worked from the East Coast for the Allentown Morning Call. On the side, he worked on a story for a major magazine on the war. They held out a large paycheck for a completed story. However, the Iran-Contra scandal took over the news and Weston’s work was no longer needed. Returning to the West Coast, Weston realized the potential of technology. He began to run tech projects for a law firm, which expanded to a consulting business with 100 law firms. Having restored himself in a new career, he longed to live outside of the city and brought his family to Mount Shasta. “I thought I was smart. I had done well in San Francisco. I sold everything, reinvested my money and looked forward to a happy future,” he says. “But I wasn’t that smart. In a short time, I lost everything and was back where I had started.”
He took a job with an internet company doing installations. Humbled, he spent days under mobile homes stringing wire. Realizing the need for tech service, he began to accept jobs on the side to help people with problems, hiring someone to do computer repair for him. When a tenant couldn’t afford her rent, Weston asked her to help him start his own business. Acme Computer was born.
“The business has grown at breakneck speed,” Weston says. Today, the company employs talent from Northern California and uses them to service accounts in Austin, San Diego, San Francisco and Bahrain. Acme continues to grow as a tech service. Its current work includes involvement in the Bay Lights project on the Bay Bridge. Acme began the installation of 25,000 white LEDs, over the 1.8 miles of the bridge. Computer controls change the patterns and appearance of the lights. The project was meant to be temporary and completed by March of 2015. Now funds are being raised for it to be a permanent work.
“I've been there and back again,” Weston says. “But what I’ve learned is to measure my life not by my money or career, but by my family. They mean everything.”