In this day and age of “big box” stores like Costco, Best Buy, Wal-Mart and the never-ending promise of big is better, there’s one small store in South Pasadena that’s been successful for more than 60 years by serving one customer at a time.
Speers TV, 919 Fair Oaks Ave., has been selling and repairing all types of electronics for more than 60 years. And if current business is any indication, that trend may continue for the next 60 years.
“It’s all about customer service,” owner Ash Harikian said recently as he reflected on a business he’s been involved with one way or another for more than 60 years. “That’s our base. It is the customers. When people call us they get us, not a call center.”
This is a family-owned business headed up by 72-year-old Ash Harikian. The Harikian family have owned Speers TV since 1996.
Speers TV was originally founded and owned by Dal Speers when it opened on Mission Street in South Pasadena back in 1951. The business moved to its present location in the early 1980s.
The store is an authorized dealer for Sony, Sharp, Samsung, LG, Toshiba, Panasonic, Onkyo and Pioneer.
Not only does it sell flat screen, smart televisions, surround sound, and anything else offered at the “big box” stores, but it repairs them as well. And it’s the repairs that keeps generations of customers coming back for more, Harikian said.
“Actually, modern TV’s are easier to repair than older models, more costly, but easier,” the elder Harikian said as he gave a reporter a tour of his two-story storefront that is jammed to the rafters with radios, wires, tools, LED lights, TVs, and DVD players, to name just a few of the electronics that fill the workrooms and storerooms.
“One of the reasons we have thousands upon thousands of customers from Seal Beach to Pasadena is that we do provide service,” Harikian said. “We provide great service one customer at a time.”
Harikian was an IBM computer technician from 1970 to 1980 in Tehran, Iran. When the Shah of Iran fell, Harikian fled to safety and changed his job specifications from computers to electronics.
“While I was at IBM, I was training also in electronics and then when the revolution happened in Iran I switched from computers to house electronics. Then gradually over time I learned to repair cassettes, reel-to-reel tape recorders and the televisions.” The store still has more than a thousand tubes over 60 years old that were used to run television sets. The store- rooms upstairs and in the back resemble more a museum of rare electronic artifacts than a bustling business, Harikian said.
He pointed to a nearby radio that was sitting among the wires, components and circuit boards.
The Stewart Warner Corp. table top tube-radio was built in 1946. Harikian was repairing the radio alongside the 60-inch flat screen, smart TV.
The ability to work on the ancient coupled with ability to fix the new is another reason the business is flourishing.
“The repair part of the business is so important,” Harikian said. “My son, Alen, is great for setting up the TVs, hooking up the modems, but I’m the repairman and that is essential for this business to succeed.”
The 42-year-old Alen agrees with his father, and said he hopes to continue the business well into his 70s, just like his father.
“Why not?” Alen Harikian said. “I love what I do, and I’m going to try and continue the business as long as I can. The people are great. Every day is different. It’s great.”
The old with the new also holds true for customer referrals as well. As an example, Alen said Yelp.com has been a “huge boost” to getting new customers.
“Yelp has been incredible,” Ash Harikian said, agreeing with his son, Alen. “People read our reviews on Yelp and we get a new customer.”
In fact, they were planning to head out to El Monte for an installation of a new 75-inch, flat screen TV with surround sound.
“They came to us from Yelp,” the younger Harikian said. “We will do the guaranteed installation. If they have any issues, they come right to us and we take care of it right away.”
And that’s exactly what the Harikian’s have been doing for one centenarian for a quarter-century now.
“She’s 104 years old and lives in Pasadena,” Harikian said. “Her grandchildren are coming to us now. It’s all about the service. Always will be.”
Speers TV is located at 919 Fair Oaks Ave. in South Pasadena. Hours of operation are Mon.-Fri. 9:30 a.m.- 5 p.m. and Saturday 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. For more information visit at www.speers-tv.com call (626) 799-3639.