From construction workers to cellphone entrepreneurs

They have known each other since they were three years old, but never thought they would be pooling their life savings to turn their lives around. Ash Jordan was a former heavy equipment operator in the mining industry.

They have known each other since they were three years old, but never thought they would be pooling their life savings to turn their lives around.

Ash Jordan was a former heavy equipment operator in the mining industry. Jayme Jenson “built pretty much half of the Yukon,” as an iron and structural steelworker, he said in a gruff tone.

They wanted out of the construction industry, and did just that.

Two months ago, they switched their hard hats for microscopes. They now fix cellphones and smart tablets in a store they named Kustom Phone Repairs.

“It was a little bit surreal,” Jenson said of their first day, nervous of all the time and money he had invested in the business.

The risk is indeed a steep one. After all the business expenses, they only had $300 left to spend on inventory.

The two took a trip to Las Vegas to complete a course in the Wild PCS training centre in cellphone repair in March. They have a Level 3 certification, which includes water-damage-repair training, Jenson said.

Upon their return to Whitehorse, they found a location within a week and opened shop on Elliott Street and Third Avenue in mid-April.

So far, they have repaired close to a hundred phones and have yet to

encounter a phone they cannot fix.

They’ve even fixed phones that have fallen into lakes, one of the typical mishaps related to Yukon summer activities. In the last two weeks, they got about four kayakers whose cellphones were water-damaged.

Some phones were completely dead after being dropped in water, but they managed to fix them. “With this weather we’re going to get a lot of people out,” said Jordan.

The two recommend not attempting to fix water damage at home. “Forget rice. Rice is a myth. Hairdryer, same thing,” Jordan said. Cellphones are tightly assembled and rice can only soak up so much moisture.

It takes a professional to disassemble the entire phone and treat the boards and components with chemicals that are quite abrasive to human skin, he said.

It costs $60 to repair water damage, $100 if the battery was corroded, said Jensen.

Cellphone and electronics companies such as Bell, NorthwesTel and The Source send customers to them, as water damage is not included in company warranties, Jordan said.

Shipping damaged phones off to B.C. repair shops takes between four to six weeks. And there’s no guarantee they would even be fixed, said Jordan. By comparison, the pair offer same-day service.

Ashton recalls having to have his phone’s charger port repaired one day, while he was in a big city Outside. “I got the same old song and dance everyone gets, wait for weeks and get it back,” he said.

He chose to get it repaired in the city. “A hundred bucks later and two hours tops and you get your phone back,” he said. That’s when Ashton looked into cellphone repair courses and encouraged Jensen to partner with him.

Their store is the first of its kind in both the Yukon and Northwest Territories, Jordan said. They plan to also target customers in the N.W.T., as they estimate it will take only nine days to ship and repair phones from the territory.

Kustom Phone Repairs also sells accessories and refurbished cellphones in the store. They may pay for second-hand phones, depending on how old the phone is.

Two months after the company’s launch, it is now planning its first “advertising splurge,” said Jordan. The sides of city buses will be plastered with their company logos. “It’s worth it,” he said.

When business picks up, the two are ready to work 15 hours per day to maintain their same-day service.

Their turnover rate also depends on their supplies, as they order parts from all over the world. They are constantly looking for cheaper and faster shipping deals, Jordan said.

Being in the technology industry is like chasing after a moving train. They constantly have to update their training.

“It’s a little game,” said Jordan. “Companies do it on purpose – make it harder to fix your phone because they want you to buy a new one,” he added.

Asked how long they think it would take for them to break even with all the investment they made into the business, Jensen said it looks like a few months.

“We just went for it. And we’re still holding our breath.”

Contact Krystle Alarcon at

krystlea@yukon-news.com

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