Genius Phone Repair opens at GVSU

Company started by Laker alumni returns to campus

By Bennett Slavsky | 8/28/16 9:56pm

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GVL / Luke Holmes - Dylan Kernohan works on a broken iPhone at the Genius Phone Repair shop in the GVSU Marketplace.

by Luke Holmes / Grand Valley Lanthorn

Fixing everything from cell phones and computer to tablets, Genius Phone Repair opened their newest location on Grand Valley State University's campus Monday, Aug. 22, making this their 18th location. The store is located upstairs in the Laker Store.

By coming back to GVSU, Genius Phone Repair has come back to its roots. The company was started by two GVSU students, Jordan Notenbaum and Garry VonMyhr, back in 2008. Notenbaum and VonMyhr began tinkering with fellow students’ broken phones right out of their apartment as a way to make some money in college. It was not uncommon for customers to watch Detroit Tigers games in the living room while Notenbaum and VonMyhr fixed their cell phones on the dining room table.

Now, Genius is the 750th fastest growing company in the U.S., opening 18 locations throughout Michigan and Indiana in just six short years, with 160 employees fixing over 10,000 electronic items a month. They have won a variety of awards ranging from the 2014 Entrepreneur of the Year by the Grand Rapids Chamber of Commerce, to Michigan’s Top 50 Companies to Watch in 2015 by Michigan Celebrates Small Business.

“I think what made Genius so successful was just being in the right place at the right time,” said Josiah Chappell, the company's vice president of marketing. "Our first storefront opened in 2009, right on the cusp of the smartphone generation. There was not a lot of competition at that time, so we had nothing but opportunity.”

It was also the mindset of the owners that led Genius Phone Repair to such success. Notenbaum was a finance and marketing major with a knack for electronic tinkering and VonMyhr was a finance major who was incredibly business-driven; together they were the perfect combination for this industry.

They had no intentions of just opening one store and calling it quits. They were ambitious and knew they had a good idea they could build into a chain and a major success.

“It just seemed to make sense to come to Grand Valley,” Chappell said. “We have such deep ties here, with the owners both being alumni and Jordan Notenbaum being on the alumni board, it was a perfect opportunity.”

With more than 25,000 students at GVSU, there is a potential for thousands of broken phones, tablets and computers.

But Genius Phone Repair is concerned with more than just the staggering number of cracked phone screens on campus. They are here to serve the GVSU community. They have a central location on campus, as well as a mutualistic relationship with the Laker Store. Genius does computer repairs for the Laker Store as well as helping in setting up electronic insurance programs.

Genius’s primary goal, all the way from the founders down to the technology employees, is customer service and customer satisfaction.

“When we are fixing someone’s phone, a lot of times they feel like we have their lives in our hands," said Pete Sodini, store manager. "Our focus is our customers, and we are willing to do whatever it takes to make sure they are satisfied.”

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