Clas Computers dialing into telephone business

Monday, December 16, 2002

Gene Magnus knew what he wanted all along -- a business that provided computer sales and service and later an Internet connection. But he also wanted to eventually create a phone company that could merge into the existing company and create a one-stop shop for telecommunication.

Now, the final piece is in place.

Since 1990, Magnus' business, Clas Computers at 340 S. Broadview, has been a company that sells and services computers and later started providing dial-up Internet, satellite Internet, broadband and also specialty Web connections for businesses.

The recent creation of MComm, for Magnus Communication, is just a manifestation of what his business has been doing all along, Magnus said. The paperwork completed two weeks ago with the Missouri Public Service Commission means that Clas Computers has added a phone company to the computer store and Internet service.

MComm is a new company, a "clec" -- which stands for competitive local exchange carrier.

"We have always tried to stay ahead of the curve as far as technology and these types of service," Magnus said. "If people call us needing any of these services, we want be able to provide it. We want customers to be pointed in our direction. If they call with problems, we want to be able to resolve all those issues."

MComm will resell residential and business phone lines, which will allow them to provide local and long-distance phone service after installing the line. Magnus says that means Clas Computers can now be a one-stop service for people who want their Internet service and phone charges from one company.

"What we're doing is taking specialized companies and bundling them together," he said. "It's been years in the brewing. It's finally coming together as a complete package."

Albertsons again

The owner of the old Albertsons building has reported a spot of trouble. Glenn Wilson, the owner of a Nashville-based development group, said he'd like to sell the 57,560-square-foot building at 2126 Independence as a single unit, but no one has expressed any interest in taking the whole building.

"I've gotten some interest from people who want to split it up," he said. "I'd rather sell it as one unit, but it doesn't look like that's going to happen."

He said that means it probably will be the home of two or three retail stores. Wilson said he has spoken to people with Kohl's department store, Kroger, Food Lion and others.

"But I'm really not close," said Wilson, who bought the building along with other Albertsons buildings in Hot Springs, Ark. and Nashville. He said he wished he had better news.

Villagers united

LaCroix Village has opened most of its shops at the new French-style 9,800-square-foot building along Route W just north of the city limits. Four of the units are open, including the beauty shop, the furniture store, a florist and a doctor's office (Dr. Rod Crist.)

Developer Trish Lafoe tells me the other shops -- including a second location for My Daddy's Cheesecake and a tanning salon -- will open sometime early next year.

"You have to come down and see it," she told me last week. "It's beautiful."

Increased RAM

Automation Services, the Cape Girardeau company that specializes in computer network and security, has moved from Mount Auburn to 2751 Thomas Drive, just south of Ford Groves. Some of you in the Elks Club will remember that building as your old stomping grounds.

The company, formed in 1997, moved into the new digs because it offered more space, said owner Mike Buchanan. He says he also had been leasing the space on Mount Auburn and he has purchased this building with his wife, Nancy.

The old space was 4,000 square feet, and the new building has more than twice that much. There's so much space, in fact, that Buchanan said he's looking for another tenant to lease office space.

Chaos for Kaos

Kaos, the nightclub at 823 S. Kingshighway, was open less than a year when it closed in October. The story, as I hear it, is hazy, with the owner pretty much just leaving after the lease expired.

But another man, Shane Hill, who hopes to open a new nightclub there -- also called Club Kaos -- may be in for a tough time. Police, who have done a background check on Hill, are going to push the Cape Girardeau City Council to deny his request for a liquor license.

"He's got a rough background," one person close to the situation told me.

Jack's is adding java

Illustrious Jack's is expanding its menu to include a variety of new winter-time drinks, said owner Dave Gerlach. They're calling them Jack's Java and the offerings will include new espresso-based drinks like lattes, cappuccinos, mochas along with mocha shakes made with the store's frozen custard.

The store on Broadway also has its own house blends of regular coffees. Pastries, muffins and scones have been added.

"We're like a little Starbucks," Gerlach said. "Except we have a drive-through."

Briefly

Space Walk Cafe has applied for a liquor license. The downtown business that provides access to high-speed computers for people who pay a fee wants to start selling beer and wine. Talk about making the Internet fun.

Scott Moyers is the business editor for the Southeast Missourian. Send your comments, business news, information or questions to Biz Buzz, 301 Broadway, Cape Girardeau, Mo., 63702-0699, e-mail smoyers@semissourian.com or call 335-6611, extension 137.

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