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  • Andrew Sylvia photo

    Brinestone Owner Matt Bernard takes a look inside a computer during the opening of his company's new location in the former Ceratec Building in Amherst.
  • Andrew Sylvia photo

    Bob Duffy (left) and Shu Mai Yin (right) of Nashua watch Brinestone IT ManagerJeff Boucher demonstrates the features of a laptop on sale at the the Brinestone grand opening on Saturday.
  • Andrew Sylvia photo

    Brinestone Owner Matt Bernard takes a look inside a computer during the opening of his company's new location in the former Ceratec Building in Amherst.
  • Andrew Sylvia photo

    Bob Duffy (left) and Shu Mai Yin (right) of Nashua watch Brinestone IT ManagerJeff Boucher demonstrates the features of a laptop on sale at the the Brinestone grand opening on Saturday.
Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Recent chamber award winner expands business

The nation might still be struggling to recover from the recession, but don’t tell that to Matt Bernard.

On Saturday, Bernard expanded the computer services company he founded in 2008 by moving to a larger office in Amherst. The grand reopening of Brinestone LLC in the former home of Ceratec Ceramic Tile at 116 Route 101A marked a move from offices in Milford that opened just a year ago but the company had already outgrown.

“I know what I do as a business owner, and what services we provide and what’s needed out there,” Bernard said. “I see new businesses opening up and others are blossoming, so I think times are getting better.”

Brinestone got its start providing IT services, computer retail sales and computer repair. These core elements will remain, but the company is also expanding into retail video game sales and hosting local area network, or LAN, parties for video game enthusiasts in the area.

Gamestop, a video game store with thousands of locations throughout the United States and Europe, has a location only a few hundred feet away, but Bernard believes his company can compete.

“They’re a much larger corporate chain, but we offer the same price and hand-select the video games that people want to have,” Bernard said. “We look at what’s selling out there and what are the trends, not only on video games, but on computers as well.”

The company also prides itself on being veteran-owned and operated. Bernard served in the Army from 1995-2000 and then again after 9/11 for several years. A veteran of Iraq, Bernard was wounded and won two Purple Hearts. And when he came home from the war, he started the business, in part, to reach out and help fellow veterans.

Part of what Brinestone does is help wounded veterans transition from injuries sustained in combat, but the company will help any returning serviceman. For that work, Bernard was honored last week as the Souhegan Valley Chamber of Commerce Business Leader of the Year.

“It gives me an opportunity to share with other business leaders what I do for the community, how I give back, how I help other veterans reintegrate into the community, whether they’ve just come back from a war deployment or are just getting out of the military in general,” he said before receiving his award. “For me, it’s just another way of continuing to serve.”

Bernard has donated time and expertise to veterans assistance groups ranging from Soldiers’ Angels, an organization that aids service members wounded in action, to Harbor Homes of Nashua, which provides housing for homeless veterans. He also helps veterans by giving them work.

Stephen Lewald is a computer technician with Brinestone who served in the Army from 1981-2003. After he left the military, he worked in various jobs but didn’t work for a veteran until he came to Brinestone.

“It’s more of a regimental atmosphere,” Lewald said. “I’m used to the regimental way of doing things, so this is more of my style.”

Even for civilian Brinestone employees, such as director of sales and business development Jim Gianino, the company’s emphasis on helping veterans is a major source of pride.

“My dad was a veteran, and I come from a military family … so it’s very important to me,” said Gianino, who owned his IT company for six years and had 25 years of IT sales experience before coming on board with Brinestone 2½ months ago. “What Matt does for the veterans community inspired me, and it certainly inspired me to come work with him.”