CompUSA closure good business for others
Local computer repair firms are gaining new customers and expanding locations
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Some computer businesses in Hawaii are picking up the slack for CompUSA, which is closing up both its stores on Oahu.
SuperGeeks, for one, is getting a nice boost in customers who are seeking repair and maintenance, according to chief geek James Kerr.
The Honolulu-based company is gearing up to hire more staff and has set up its own help line to field the additional customer queries.
Likewise, Personal Touch Computers, across from the CompUSA Kakaako store, and Best Buy, which has its own Geek Squad tech-support unit, are fielding additional customers who would have gone to CompUSA.
CompUSA shocked customers and employees in early December when it announced it was shuttering its stores across the nation and being acquired by Gordon Brothers Group.
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While CompUSA is saying good-bye, other computer businesses in Hawaii are saying hello to more customers needing service and repair.
SuperGeeks president and CEO James Kerr, a Honolulu-based computer servicing company, says he's seen a 30 percent surge in business since CompUSA announced its closings last month.
The two CompUSA stores on Oahu have stopped offering repair and maintenance services as they continue to liquidate their stores.
Kerr says January is shaping up to be SuperGeeks' best month in its 10-year history.
He's about to hire three more SuperGeeks to work for the company, which currently has a staff of 20. SuperGeeks has also set up a help desk department to answer tech questions, and extended its service hours.
Kerr dubbed the CompUSA closures as a "once-in-a-lifetime business opportunity."
"If a former CompUSA client comes to us and says, please help, we want to do it right and make them happy," he said. "This kind of opportunity only comes once."
SuperGeeks has outlets in Moiliili, Punchbowl and Kapolei, as well as workers on the ground in Hilo and Kona. Recently, it also opened an outlet in Ohio.
Kerr said many of CompUSA's corporate clients, in particular, are calling with requests for help in keeping their networks running smoothly. SuperGeeks also decided to partner with a mainland hardware company that it will announce in the near future to provide an added service.
The new help desk is useful because many computer problems today -- about 25 percent of SuperGeek's volume -- can be fixed remotely, according to Kerr.
"There's no need for someone to unplug the machine and bring it in, and no need to drive through traffic," he said. "It can be fixed through the phone and Internet."
For instance, a client in Kahala had misplaced a file on her desktop. SuperGeeks connected to her machine and showed her how to retrieve it in about 10 minutes.
Kerr estimates about 25 percent of computer tech issues can be solved remotely.
The number of clients has also been picking up significantly for Personal Touch Computers at 311 Keawe St. across the street from CompUSA in Kakaako, according to owner Jeff Litvinoff.
Personal Touch is interested in taking over the extended warranty service from CompUSA partner Assurant Solutions.
Personal Touch, a small shop that opened near the computer retail giant to take advantage of spillover traffic about a decade ago, is benefiting as much from CompUSA's closing as its grand opening.
Litvinoff said CompUSA had sent clients over before, but that now there's been a significant pickup in traffic.
"It's a pretty decent increase," said Litvinoff.
The company recently became a Dell partner, which means it will also focus on doing Dell repairs.
Best Buy's Geek Squad, likewise, is picking up more work due to former CompUSA customers that are looking for help.
Best Buy Alakawa store manager Shawn Troup said it is getting spillover from the closed CompUSA store.
"We have definitely seen a large influx of business and repairs," he said. "And I'm positive it will continue."
CompUSA surprised customers and employees in early December when it announced its acquisition to Gordon Brothers Group LLC, a global restructuring firm based in Boston.
Gordon Brothers announced an "orderly wind-down" of CompUSA's retail store operations and its intention to sell CompUSA TechPro as well as the Internet sales operation CompUSA.com. Gordon Brothers also said it would sell select stores in key market.
Honolulu CompUSA store manager Ken Elton was confident a new buyer would come along for the Kakaako store, saying it was the top-grossing store in the nation. So far, however, no buyers have been named.