Brian Hendricks is the founder and chief executive officer of StartUpPC, a Potomac company that both fixes computers on-site and builds customized computers from scratch.

He is also 16 years old. Or, as he puts it, 161/2.

Back when he started the business -- at age 13 -- he was just a kid looking for a few extra bucks to buy Pokemon cards, bubble gum and Beanie Babies. "One time my friend gave me a 10-dollar tip for making him a computer," Hendricks said, "and I thought, 'Hey, I can make some money doing this.' " That was a lot of money back then, in 2002.

His dad got him a debit card, helped him incorporate the business and explained something called taxes, and Hendricks began following in Bill Gates's footsteps. He now employs three or four friends and is pocketing some nice cash, though he won't say how much, citing competitive interests.

"I don't like to give those numbers to the press," Hendricks said.

He's apparently doing well. Last month, Ernst & Young awarded him its Young Entrepreneur of the Year award for the Greater Washington region. The month before that, he won a similar award from the Washington regional office of the U.S. Small Business Administration. His approach to the awards is philosophical.

"I treat them like an Oscar," Hendricks said, speaking characteristically quickly. "An actor doesn't need the extra recognition or the extra money from an Oscar. But it tells them they are the on the right path and doing things right."

Hendricks has carefully calculated his path. After the rising senior graduates from Winston Churchill High School, where he received straight A's last year, he'd like to attend college, study business and open StartUpPC franchises on campuses around the country. He charges $25 an hour for service and anywhere from $850 to $3,000 for a customized computer.

His rates are somewhat lower than his corporate competitors, a function of having very little overhead -- no rent, no electricity bill -- and an endless supply of $5 bills.

"We can always fall back on our parents," he said. "If you fail, you get back up real quick and say, 'Dad, can you loan me five bucks?' "

Honors for Deaf Residents

The state's Division of Rehabilitation Services (DORS) will honor 25 deaf Montgomery County residents who found jobs as part of Project Career, an initiative started by state and community organizations to address myriad of disability issues and help the residents find jobs.

An awards ceremony will be held from 8:30 to 10 a.m. July 22 at Montgomery Works in Wheaton.

"For many Project Career participants, deafness was only one of many barriers to employment," said Robert A. Burns, assistant rehabilitation services and DORS director. "Project Career brought community agencies together to help solve transportation, housing and other disability issues and made employment a reality. Now these individuals have the promise of a better future and Montgomery County has another 25 active and fully participating community members."

Making It Count

Chalk another one up for Montgomery County's accountants. For the 33rd straight year, they have won a certificate of achievement from the Government Finance Officers Association for the county's annual financial report.

The award honors the county's "spirit of full disclosure" in its accounting. No county in the nation has won more certificates than Montgomery, according to a county news release.

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