Adapting with the state of the art

Local business thrives despite changing industry

Just five years ago, Hazel Dell-based A-1 TV & Electronic Service Company was written off as a dying animal. New technologies such as liquid crystal display, digital light projection and plasma screens were to replace the old tube-driven, rear-projection sets. It was hailed as a harbinger of doom for the television repair industry, as service would move from repair to replacement, and manufacturers would restrict access to parts and work only with authorized dealers.

Or so said the naysayers.

"We’re busier now than we’ve ever been," said A-1 repair technician and co-owner Daniel McAllister. "[Five years ago] it was kind of ‘doom and gloom.’ Even customers would say, ‘Gee, I didn’t know they fixed TVs anymore.’"

Today, the 35-year-old family-owned company continues to thrive, counting new television repair as 50 percent of its business, with services generally performed at the customer’s home.

The shop, located at 88th Street and Highway 99 in Hazel Dell, services a wide range of electronic equipment, from old radios to vintage TVs, and around 200 sets per month, with repair bills running between $200 and $400.

McAllister said the business has remained vital in TV repair by applying a tried-and-true industry formula.

"With set repair, 75 to 80 percent of what we fix are known as ‘common problems,’" he explained. "A Sony 27-inch Trinitron, for example, will have one of three things wrong with it, so we trace the common problems with respect to the set we’re working on."

McAllister said that with the new sets, it’s just a matter of learning what the common problems are. Plasma sets, for example, frequently end up with a bad circuit board or a faulty power supply.

The time needed to gain such knowledge is allowed through what McAllister calls the lag time between purchase of new technology and repair needs. It gives the shop time to learn the new sets before people start bringing them in.

And the people are bringing them in. This is because the new sets have created a high-end component to the market.

"These days, you have bottom-end electronic to mid-range, and then you have the expensive stuff," McAllister said. "We definitely try to lay it on the line for customers in terms of how much it will cost to fix their set. And if they have a new set, they usually decide it’s worth it to get it fixed. So many times, people come in with their set and say, ‘the kids are going
crazy!’ The business isn’t dying, it’s changing, and we’re keeping up with it."

A-1 TV & Electronic Service Company

Daniel McAllister, co-owner
1203 NE 88th Street, Vancouver
(360) 573-0451

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