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Rob Boerboom is tech support for a city

Rob Boerboom has been in charge of managing the city of Farmington's IT needs for the past six years.

City of Farmington employee Rob Boerboom is a low-key guy. He's not usually asked to sit in on council meetings, or give lengthy reports. He doesn't meet with the public often. He's maybe not one of the more recognizable faces around town, but the city relies on him and so do the residents, whether they know it or not.

Boerboom is the city of Farmington's information technology specialist. He's the guy who works with the computers and all that technical stuff that confuses most people. When the telephone system upgrade at the police department didn't go as planned earlier this week, he was the guy in the conference calls trying to figure out how to fix the problems.

He's coming up on his six-year anniversary next week, but has spent the better part of two decades working with technology. This week, he shared a little bit about his time and his job in Farmington.

You're the IT guy. What exactly do you do for the city of Farmington?

Let's see. Computers. Server. Phones. Printers. I work with the (police) squad laptops, I work with the fire laptops, I work with the liquor operations as far as their registers and servers. The IP surveillance system throughout the city. Basically, someone has a problem with their desktop, their server, their phone, whatever, they call me.

How is it that you know how to do all this stuff?

Learned everything over the course of 15 years working on the job. I was always interested in computers growing up. My first 10 years at Best Buy, I did a lot of training. A lot of classes.

Were you a Geek Squad member?

No. I never was on Geek Squad. That actually wasn't there before I left. I left there in 2002, somewhere in there. Basically everything is on the job, on the job training, between seminars and training classes and different courses I take.

What does a normal day at work look like for you?

There is no such thing. Every day is different. These past couple of days, I've been dealing with one building because they're having issues, but it could be more. Someone calls me and says 'I can't print' or someone calls me and says 'I'm having problems getting my voicemail' or 'I have an error message on my computer' or the server's running out of space, or ... I mean, there's just no typical day. Every day is different, and that's one of the reasons I love my job. There's no repetitiveness to it. Something different every day.

For example, I'll go up to the police department to work on, one of the detectives needs a report set up or whatever. Well, it could be an hour before I leave because four or five other things come up. It's usually that way with most buildings I come into. They have issues I don't know about when I walk in there. And I'm the type of person that will for the most part, even though my boss tells me not to, if someone calls me, I usually jump. I don't put them on a list. I try to get to them right away. This (office) is the area where I probably spend the least amount of my time.

How do you keep up on all of the technology changes?

Hardware wise, our computers are on a four-year cycle. I try to keep them up to date, but obviously the last few years the budget's been a little tight so I've replaced more on an as-need. I don't want to fall too far behind in the cycle, so I mean, I do have the money to buy what I need, but I try to be careful on how I spend it through the year because there's not a lot of other funds laying around if something big goes down. Hardware wise, we're on a four-year cycle. I did just recently, last year, finish upgrading the whole city to flat screens and got rid of the big energy monitors. Those are gone.

We are on a yearly maintenance schedule with most of our software so that gets upgraded every year.

Some of our bigger ones, like our GIS mapping, that's all included in the maintenance. The maintenance also covers support, if we're having programs that aren't running properly. AutoCAD, same thing. We get a new version every year. Office, I'm working on upgrading everyone to the most recent version.

So you do a fair amount of training with city staff, too?

I do what I can. That's also something that's kind of time consuming. We like to have people come in and utilize our training room.... There have been a couple of new programs the city's looking at utilizing that we've had different departments in there. I haven't had the chance to do the kind of training that I would like to do. A lot more of my training is one-on-one, at their desk. It's also harder to pull 15 people away from their desk at one time.

How many different places do you have to go around the city as part of your job?

I think there's nine different buildings. City hall, senior center. Two liquor stores, two fire stations, ice arena, police department, maintenance. Every once in a while I go to the well houses, too, because they do have a computer out there that runs their software. But that's rare. The two bigger users requesting my time are the police department and city hall.

How long do you think you're going to keep doing this?

I love my job. I love the fact that I come to work every day and it's different, you know? I don't know what's going to happen. Sure, there are days when it's very stressful. I love the people I work with. I live in the city, my kids all go to school here. I would like this to be my last job.

Michelle Leonard

Michelle Leonard joined the Woodbury Bulletin staff in November, 2014, after 14 years covering news for the Bulletin's sister publication, the Farmington Rosemount Independent Town Pages.  Michelle earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Mass Communications: News-Editorial from Mankato State University in 1991. She is an active member of the American Legion Auxiliary Clifford Larson Unit 189 of Farmington, and served as the 2014-15 Third District President to the American Legion Auxiliary Department of Minnesota. Michelle is also the volunteer coordinator for the Minnesota Newspaper Museum which is open annually during the Minnesota State Fair. She has earned Minnesota Newspaper Association awards in Investigative Reporting, Local News Coverage, Feature Photography and Column Writing. 

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