Bugs Yexley says: ‘What can I do? Who can I help?’
Bugs Yexley sat in the Daily American parking lot Friday, responding to 15 people’s texts for help because their T-Cons were not happening.
Normal stuff for Yexley.
“I love being busy, but if I don’t have something, I take a nap for an hour,” he said with his deep gravel laugh, still thick with a midwestern accent.
His life goal fits well in his current systems technological position at Snyder of Berlin, in his local church family and in his community: “What can I do? Who can I help?”
Growing up on the South Side
“I grew up South Side of Chicago. My father died when I was young and my mother became an alcoholic, full-fledge,” he said.
She bought a tavern.
“It made a lot of money. But it was a nightmare. I probably mopped up more blood and teeth as a 5-year-old than most people see in their lives,” he said. “But, you know, I got use to it.”
Yexley said he was the toughest kid in school because he had the biggest chip on his shoulders than anybody.
“So people did what I wanted,” he said. “That is how I sort of got the nickname, Bugs, in the sixth grade.”
The nickname has stuck to this day. Even his mother called him Bugs, he said.
Mother and son’s relationship got “way better” once she became sober and continued until his mother died a few years ago.
“She became my best friend because I could talk to her. It totally turned around,” he said.
Thrust into technology
Yexley discovered electronics as a teenager.
“I like electronics and I like to use my mind to kind of think of things, to fix things,” he said.
He attended Bradley University in Peoria, Illinois, for electronic engineering.
Yexley has been his own businessman even before attending college, in fact, since high school.
He is proud he was able to save enough money to attend a well-known private university like Bradley.
As a young man, he opened his own computer consulting store in Casey, Illinois. He soon became known as “the computer guy.” He did that for about 18 years, jumping in his vehicle and going to where the problem needed to be fixed and fixing it.
He enjoyed sharing his professional knowledge by teaching a communication class for eight years at College of DuPage, a community college in the Chicago area. The class was a technical concept course in television broadcasting and engineering.
“That is what I used to do, until I got involved with computers,” he said.
When Comiskey Park in Chicago, Illinois, served as the home of the Chicago White Sox of the American League before 1990, Yexley re-engineered the stadium’s big screen. He also worked with advertising agencies, hospitals, colleges and cable companies.
Yexley did a lot of online marketing for jobs as his profession began to change. He got a lot of short-term interesting jobs this way, like helping to set up the self-service area in about a dozen Wal-Marts.
From one of the online sites, he applied for a job in St. Elmo, Illinois. It was listed as an indefinite timeframe for the job contract for Wish-Bone salad dressing that had just been purchased by the Pinnacle Foods Group. He got the job, which became the beginning of his professional journey to Somerset County and Snyder of Berlin, also a Pinnacle Foods subsidiary, where now he is its information technology systems “guy.”
He moved to Somerset County in 2015, bought a house in Somerset Borough about a year later, and then his family joined him — his wife, Mary, who works at Somerset Hospital, and their twin sons, Jordan and Josiah, who are juniors at Somerset Area Senior High School.
Once a firefighter, always a firefighter
Since moving to Somerset, Yexley has contacted the Somerset Volunteer Fire Department to see if there is some way he can help them. He has experience, he said.
He was a volunteer firefighter in Illinois for nearly two decades.
“Because I was independent, my own business guy, it was ‘a perfect scenario’ to help that whole area,” he said. “If a fire call came in and I had a customer in the store, I’d say ‘I’ve got to go, you need to leave and lock the door behind you.’”
He was always the first one on scene at a fire call. He carried his gear in his truck.
“After I got to know what I could do and I couldn’t do, I would just charge in there. What is the problem? There is a fire in the couch. I’ll check it out,” he said. “By the time the guys got there with the truck, I let them know what we got.”
He responded to everything and went with three neighboring county fire departments — Clark, Cumberland and Marshall.
“It is the ultimate way to help somebody. Instantly,” he said. “I love that.”
The dark days
Even as his giving nature was helping his community, his professional side was sliding downward. The business itself turned because of technology. When it was mechanical and electronic, it was perfect for his skills. Then it went more digital.
“The business kind of failed because the environment for what I was doing was no longer,” he said. The cost of equipment needed to switch to digital was a big hurdle.”
He shut down his business, which employed eight people, and worked from his home.
“It was dark time in my life, very dark,” he said.
Finding the light
Then a job helping a church with its sound system happened. A heartfelt discussion with the pastor there changed Yexley’s life.
“I’m a born again Christian,” he said. Now, he enjoys his church family in Somerset County. He wants to do more church outreach.
“God got a plan for all of that stuff (in life), that is really how life works,” he said.
He joined Somerset County Rotary Club to become more involved in his community.
“I’d like to get out and do a lot more in the community. Let’s go out and get dirty. Let’s go out and find something,” he said. So far, one of his highlights has been helping to build a front porch for a Boswell family.
“That was fun,” he said. “I’d do that every weekend if I could.”