Take 5 with Sue Bilzi
Online with Bilzi Mac co-owner, Sue Bilzi
Bilzi Mac, co-owned by SUE BILZI and husband Steve, is a computer consulting service for Apple products in the Wilmington area servicing customers for the past thirty-six years. Not only is Bilzi a technical expert in all things Apple; she commands the front office and retail store. There is also Buddy, her Australian shepherd, the number one entertainer and greeter of customers.
Born in Caracas, Venezuela, Bilzi grew up traveling the world with her father, making stops in Europe, Central and South America, Asia, Africa, the Middle East, and the US, all before she was 21 years old. A cum laude graduate of the University of California, Los Angeles with a double major in French and linguistics, Bilzi says, “Learning languages was and continues to be a passion inspired by my parents who spoke seven languages between them.”
Bilzi’s first full-time job was in international sales, although she worked part-time all through high school and college.
“Throughout my youth, I always felt that if you worked hard, you could achieve whatever you wanted,” she says.
Bilzi met her husband and business partner on a ski trip near Los Angeles.
“He was a science teacher, but due to declining student population and job uncertainty, he started his own screen-printing business,” Bilzi says. “I found it intriguing that he could make enough money to support himself while deciding when and how much to work. I started helping him on weekends. We had so much fun!”
After marriage, their fast-paced business grew to over 24 employees. And so did their family. “We took turns running T-shirt screen printing as we had more children,” Bilzi says. “I realized what a huge responsibility it was to own and run a company that big, basically affecting the financial stability of my employees.”
Eventually, life became what Bilzi calls “all about flash and cash.” As thrilling as it was to be involved in events like the 1984 Olympics and well-known companies like Disney, the Bilzi’s decided to leave California for a better life for their children.
A visit to Wilmington introduced Bilzi to “a strong sense of community that I had never known before.” She obtained her real estate license and also started a screen-printing business. As the real estate market became saturated, her sales and commissions became unpredictable. She took a job as a manager in a graphic/design print shop.
“Although it was a nice place to work, I was miserable not running my own business. So I expanded my screen printing business,” she says. Meanwhile, her husband started consulting on Apple products. It wasn’t long before Bilzi rejoined forces with him and Bilzi Mac was born, the only Apple repair facility within 100 miles of an Apple store.
“It was humbling to learn all about computers from the beginning, so I know how my customers might feel. And there were financial ups and downs. That’s when determination kicked in. It wasn’t always easy. I remembered the work ethic I learned as a young adult and stuck with it,” says Bilzi.
Bilzi sees being a woman in a male-dominated IT field as an advantage. “I have a unique perspective. Sincerely caring about our customers comes naturally to me, and I believe it contributes to our continued success.”
In her free time, Bilzi enjoys working in her vegetable and perennial gardens and traveling. “Traveling the world is not over for me, just postponed. Put me on a plane to Maui, Hawaii and I will be your best friend,” she says.
Volunteerism fills any leftover time. Bilzi has connected with many organizations in Wilmington but cherishes the Cape Fear Garden Club the most. “This club embraces so many philosophies that I share. My most thrilling year of volunteerism was my year as president. All of the members work so selflessly, improving and beautifying the community.” The club emphasizes conservation, youth gardening, politics, and education.
But it’s her family of five children and five grandchildren that makes her most happy. “I hope the legacy I leave my kids is to work with purpose, set and achieve their goals, and create good lives for their families. After all, everything is really about family.”
Take 5 with Sue Bilzi
What is the key to Bilzi Mac’s success?
“Customer satisfaction is what leads to business success and personal satisfaction. I believe in human contact and insist that real people always answer our phone – weekends and evenings included. Sincerely caring about our customers comes naturally to me, and I believe it contributes to our continued success.”
What is the best thing about running your own business?
“Owning my own business lets me set my own rules. So yes, dogs are welcome at Bilzi Mac. We have a very dog-friendly store. Our furry greeters attract, entertain, and help break the tension when customers are stressed about their electronics. And, just like long ago when I brought my kids to our printing factory in California, I enjoy having our present household all together at the store.”
What keeps you energized?
“Multitasking is fun. Keeping up the energy at our store is my everyday goal. Education is power, and I try to explain everything about computers to customers. Our company remains nimble and continues to quickly adapt to the changing needs of our customers. In the fast-paced world of technology, overnight change is constant. Understanding the changing product line and expanding our retail presence is a must if we will continue to grow.”
What is your favorite charitable cause?
“I have connected with many organizations, but the one I cherish most is the Cape Fear Garden Club. This club embraces so many philosophies that I share. My most thrilling year of volunteerism was my year as president. All of the Cape Fear Garden Club members work so selflessly, improving and beautifying the community. Folks would be surprised to know how many beauty spots in Wilmington are actually created by the hands of our members.”
What do you value most?
“I am most happy when I have all my kids around me. Planning our annual family reunion with all fifteen of us is my greatest pleasure. I hope the legacy I leave my kids is to work with purpose, set and achieve their goals, and create good lives for their families. After all, everything is really about family.”
To view more of photographer Terah Wilson’s work, go to terahwilson.com.
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