Cindy Luffer is president of iPhix inc.
What is iPhix and what does it do?
Luffer: iPhix is a company that consists of retail stores that can repair your device in an hour. We carry the highest quality parts and a great warranty.
We don’t just repair cellphones and tablets, we repair computers, headphones, Bluetooth devices, cameras, really anything with a motherboard or a wire.
Our specialty is repairing motherboard problems down to the chip level. This can mean the difference between getting your data back on a severely-water-damaged device you never downloaded your pictures from!
How did you get into this business and why did you start this company?
Luffer: I had moved to Calgary for oil and gas in 2006 during the boom. In 2009, I was on maternity leave with my third child. I dropped my iPhone 3g and when I called around to have it fixed, not only wasn’t there anyone who was repairing but you couldn’t even find parts or information how.
That’s when I knew it was a business. A business I could start $100 with, but my original plan was to go back to work after my leave and only do it temporarily. It just really took off.
How has business been for you considering the economy in Calgary in the last few years?
Luffer: iPhix has fallen on hard times: the economy, the competition (from copycats, more than someone like me who invented the business), the increase in wages, increase in rents and property taxes that fell onto small businesses when they were not able to make it any other way.
We are still the premier repair company in the city and don’t pass on any economic difficulties to the consumer.
What are your plans for growth for the company in the near future?
Luffer: What I’ve been doing is building up my motherboard nano, smd, chip, data repair for not only clients but other businesses across Canada for both phones/tablets and laptops.
I’m also trying to find more economical leases from other small business owners and not conglomerate leasing companies for the big names – people who understand and aren’t passing on the buck.
What are the benefits of running a company in Calgary? And the challenges?
Luffer: Small businesses in Calgary have a hard time surviving. I’m witness to closure after closure specific to small-cap businesses. I don’t understand why funding and help is for startups and not the businesses that have been true to Calgary for years.
I’ve been turned away from Calgary Economic Development, Calgary Chamber, etc., because I’m a veteran and not a startup. At my level, there are only expensive programs available, which when you need help is not affordable.
I’m sorry if this last answer has a strong negative tone, but maybe I’m just in a rough spot with the City of Calgary right now.
I do feel our small business leaders’ voices have been heard at City Hall recently, so that is definitely the right direction.
Interview by Mario Toneguzzi, a Troy Media business reporter based in Calgary.