Boy runs a computer data business

CAPTION:  Tei Gordon, 13, takes a break from the computer business he operates.  The Energy Advisor Gordon uses his father’s computer to sell information to about 50 corporations.  They use the data to keep track of energy conservation.


When 13-year-old Tei Gordon types on a computer keyboard, some 50 corporate clients await his product.

The companies, including J.C. Penney Co. and General Mills, depend on Tei’s information to conserve energy in thousands of buildings across the nation.

“By this time next year, my business will probably have quadrupled,” said the Corvallis, eighth-grader, who has kicked off an advertising campaign in magazines.

For more than a year, the youngster has used his father’s computer to obtain climate data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration every week.

Tei translates the information into readable form and mails it to his clients months before they could receive it directly from the government.  

At $47 per year per subscription, Tei makes more than $2,000 annually from his business.

“The most fun part of this is making the money and spending it,” Tei said.  “I spend it on traveling and on computer games that I trade with friends and things.”

Every Monday at 7 a.m. Tei receives statistics from Washington, D.C., concerning degree-days in 210 U.S. cities.  Degree-days are calculated every 24 hours by determining how many degrees the average temperature in a city exceeded or fell short of 65 degrees Fahrenheit.

Tei arranges the information on a computer screen, prints it out and photocopies it for mailing.  Figures received from Tei’s Energy Advisor services are used to evaluate energy conservation in his clients’ buildings.

Tei began his enterprise when an adult friend, Arthur N. Orans of Philomath, passed along the idea.  The youngster sought out Lewis J. Ebner, a computer programmer who works for the energy consulting company operated by Tei’s father, for advise on writing a program to make the information.

Tei then placed a small ad in an energy-conservation magazine, and his business was under way.

Most of the clients have no idea the information they purchase arrives by way of a 13-year-old.  For example, I. William Haun, General Mills Inc. vice president of engineering policy in Minneapolis, said, “What’s that?  A 13-year-old kid?  Well, that’s remarkable.”

Haun said figures received from Tei are used to study energy conservation in 145 of the conglomerate’s buildings.

“We want to be a leading company in the energy conservation field and in fact we have managed to achieve close to 25 percent reduction in energy used per unit of manufactured products,” Haun said.



Seattle Post-Intelligence

November 28, 1983