After months of controversy about his personal and professional life, "Super" Dell Schanze said Friday that his company, Salt Lake City-based Totally Awesome Computers, is going out of business.
The announcement came during a late meeting Friday at the Jordan Commons theater in Sandy. Employees had been gathered there to officially get notice of the closure and hear an employment pitch from Dan "The Laptop Man" Young, owner of PC Laptops.
Schanze wouldn't comment specifically about the closure. His vice president of operations, Bruce Hacking, said that customers could find out where to pick up computers on the Totally Awesome Web site or at individual store locations.
"I'm doing everything I can to make sure my employees are taken care of and, even more importantly, that all of my customers that I've made promises to, even if I have to perform miracles, are taken care of so no one's services are interrupted," said Schanze.
He then spoke to reporters for about 15 minutes about negative attention he's received since 2005 when he was involved in an incident in Draper involving a gun. Schanze is scheduled for a three-day jury trial in May as a result of that incident.
He blamed his troubles on the news media, unleashing a scathing attack.
"It's too bad that all of the media in Utah are liars and murderers," he said. "You just destroyed the greatest computer company of all time. We were the best in the world, the world champion. All this hatred was created by you. You're basically angels of Satan. All I can say to the people in Utah is, please pray for all the news people."
Former employees of Totally Awesome Computers, who declined to give their names, said Friday that Schanze was "misunderstood."
"He's just Dell," one employee said. "He's a great person."
Young, owner of PC Laptops, said he didn't have specific details about the closure of Totally Awesome Computers. He did say that he was not purchasing the beleaguered company or its assets. Nor are the companies related or linked, Young said.
"We have no ownership in them, we're not buying them, we don't want to buy them in the shape they're in," Young said. "We're just taking care of their customers, the same way we did with Gateway Computers when they left town and others before them."
Young was scheduled to interview several Totally Awesome employees late Friday about the possibility of joining his firm. PC Laptops has about 50 employees, Young said, and he is looking to hire about 20 to 30 more as part of a broader corporate expansion.
PC Laptops will also honor Totally Awesome Computer customers' service warranties, at least for the next 90 days. The company also will service Totally Awesome products.
Young said PC Laptops will expand its current retail space and is scouting for additional locations. Currently, PC Laptops operates six retail locations and one warehouse in Utah, plus one store in Henderson, Nev.
"If people have a Totally Awesome computer, we want to adopt them into our family," Young said. "We want to kind of be the white knight and help these people out. And, I think they'll find that they'll have a better experience with us than they did with Totally Awesome. It's almost like a free upgrade."
An anonymous e-mail sent out Friday said that privately held Totally Awesome Computers had faced "a steady decline in sales since 2001," and "during the last year their sales have been 40 percent to 50 percent down over the same month in the prior year."The anonymous e-mail attributed the declining business to Schanze's "media stunts" and allegations related to the incident in Draper in 2005. Schanze is charged with three misdemeanors: making threats with a dangerous weapon in a fight, a Class A misdemeanor, and the Class B misdemeanors of reckless driving and making written false statements.