Gadget hospital: Skokie’s CPR brings devices back to life
Edgar Navarro (left) and his brother, William, (right) have owned the successful CPR Cell Phone Repair in Skokie since last November. | Buzz Orr~Sun-Times Media
CPR CELL PHONE REPAIR
Location: 4516 Oakton Ave., Skokie
Partners: Edgar and William Navarro
Current Ownership: Since November 2011.
Telephone: (847) 679-2772
Updated: September 10, 2012 12:39PM
SKOKIE — David Gelfand had a problem with the cell phone he relies on every day and it didn’t seem like anyone was able to fix it.
The small plug from his earphones had broken off and lodged inside the ear jack, and he soon learned it was not a simple solution — or so he thought.
“I tried different things and nothing really worked,” he said.
Not tweezers, not a jeweler, not AT&T and T-Mobile — not even a repair shop,
Enter the small Oakton Street store called CPR Cell Phone Repair in Skokie, which was a late-afternoon referral for Gelfand. His wife persuaded the store owners to keep the place open beyond their closing time until they arrived.
Ten minutes later, Gelfand had his cell phone again and in working order.
CPR Cell Phone Repair is used to success — perhaps because the store owners are success stories themselves.
Chicago native Edgar Navarro, 30, always had an interest in electronics, pursuing the field through the military, which he joined out of high school.
“I couldn’t really afford to go to DeVry so at that point the military was one of the best options,” he said.
He spent five years in Kuwait and Iraq and earned Navy Achievement Medals for electronic repair work there. Upon returning home, Navarro went to Wright College to finish courses for his career in electronics when two fortuitous events occurred — even if they may not have seemed so at the time.
Navarro needed a job and his cell phone busted.
He went into a CPR store in Chicago to repair his phone, but he also applied for a job. They weren’t hiring at the time, but his perseverance soon paid off.
“It was almost like I was interviewing them to see if I wanted to work with them,” he said. “That’s how it felt.”
Navarro began as a basic technician behind the desk, but he didn’t stay there for long. Two months later, he became store manager and then store manager and lead technician when the Skokie store opened in 2007.
He didn’t stop there. He became a national trainer for the CPR franchise in six months.
“I had to learn how to run a business before I made a purchase,” he said.
His younger brother, William, came to the Skokie store for a summer job while he attended classes at Lincoln Tech, but he, too, soon joined the CPR career team.
“This was only going to be a temporary job so I could get a car,” William Navarro said.
Like his brother, William became a national trainer as well.
As a national trainer, Edgar Navarro helped open 20 CPR locations. William helped open others. The CPR franchise exploded in only a few years — it now has 90 stores throughout the United States and beyond — and the Navarro brothers were at the heart of making that happen.
They bought the Skokie store in November, 2011 and then a second CPR store in Chicago last May. They are looking for more, they say.
The Skokie shop is cozy with a front room for those waiting on repairs; chairs are scattered around a corner TV so customers can watch the Olympics.
Despite the franchise name, the work is not restricted to cell phones like it first was; if there is an electronic device or apparatus that comes with a plug or battery, it’s a good bet the Navarro boys have repaired it.
They’re familiar with all brands of electronics and get referrals from dealers who know the work is reliable and the prices to fix things less costly.
“The name Cell Phone Repair was catchy but we’ve moved on to all different kinds of electronics,” William said. One of the child brands of the CPR franchise is Gadget Tech, reflecting the wider range of repairs.
The list of repairs made at the Skokie store is impressive: Cell phones, GPS devices, game systems, cameras, iPods and iPads, televisions and more.
Still, cell phone repairs remain the biggest part of the business. People drop gadgets all the time, the brothers say, which accounts for one of the most common reasons for needed repairs.
Many times repairs are one-fifth or one-sixth the retail cost, which is good reason for people to repair instead of replace.
The Navarros have even benefitted from the type of business they run, which is near “recession-proof.” People don’t regard their cell phones as luxuries anymore but necessities.
The success of CPR doesn’t come from publicity and advertising. The stores quietly gain momentum through positive word-of-mouth.
That’s where stories like the one David Gelfand is so eager to tell come in.
William Navarro was able to open his phone in minutes where others couldn’t.
“I was very surprised when he came out so quickly and it was fixed,” said Gelfand. “I finally had found the right place.”