This week Vivid Minds Vivid Futures interviews Paul Cohen of northTEC, Tamworth. The Tamworth store was launched in 2019 and celebrates its first anniversary on 1 June. As Tamworth’s only authorised Apple Service Provider, the store has grown from strength to strength.
Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I’m married to Amber and together we have three great kids, Sienna, Indigo and Ashton. I was born and bred in Armidale, went to school at Armidale City Public and later Armidale High School. I started work with Northern Technical Services in 2000 at 18 years old with my father, Vince, where I learnt my trade. In 2001 I moved to Lismore and started as an Apple Technician with another Apple Service Provider. This role allowed me to gain invaluable experience and I achieved further Apple accreditation. Amber and I were married in 2007 and we moved back to Armidale about eight years ago. The move was to allow me to rejoin Vince in working with northTEC Armidale until 2019. Recently we relocated to Uralla, and last year I spearheaded the opening of our Tamworth store.
What does northTEC do?
We are an Apple authorised service provider, and we specialise in all Apple products, service and repair. We offer Apple certified repairs and support for machines in and out of warranty. And as an authorized centre, we can do this in store, we don’t need to send your equipment away. In fact, no matter how old your Apple is, we can help. With stores in Armidale and Tamworth, we are the only authorised service providers in the New England. But we don’t just cover Apple – we also repair and upgrade all Windows-based computers and laptops.
We are a retail outlet for DJ1 drones, which have been really popular in Tamworth. As a Kyocera Document Solutions Retail and Service Centre we are able to provide our business clients with Kyocera printers and multifunctional products (MFPs) that deliver economic and ecological benefits.
We pride ourselves on our customer service and we find a lot of people need help with navigating their computers and their devices. Things like setting up a new computer and transferring data from the old one, setting up email signatures – we can help with advice, as well as back up service.
What led you to open a store in Tamworth?
northTEC Armidale was the only Apple Authorised Service Centre in the New England, which drove us to expand our store locations. Tamworth is the largest regional centre for the New England, so it was the logical choice. We love what we do and stand behind the Apple brand, it’s not just about repairs and service. We take the time to share our experience and help Apple owners to enjoy their devices to their full capabilities.
Tell us about your team
In Tamworth we are currently a two-person team with myself and a trainee Apple Technician. Our Armidale store has three staff, headed by my father, Vince Cohen. The stores both offer in-store and on-site service and repair. As a team we support each other and work well together as a tight-knit team. All staff are allrounders, we can all help you out with any sales, service or repair query.
What have been some of your challenges in setting up a new outlet?
Starting fresh in a new town came with a range of challenges, starting with letting people know we are here and what we do. From there, it took time to earn trust and build a reputation for our work. It was very reassuring, however, when we first started to receive such a warm welcome. We’ve been involved in local marketing campaigns such as the Tamworth Business Chamber’s Here To Stay and the Tamworth Country Music Festival.
What advice would you give a business just starting out?
Plan! Plan well, keep yourself open to opportunities and don’t overextend yourself. You also need to be good at what you do and then back it up with really good customer service. People really respond to that. If you don’t have that right, you may as well close your doors. In our case, we also focus on fast and efficient turnaround while offering really good value.
What inspires you?
My father inspired me to go into business. Like all family owned and run businesses, we butt heads now and then, but it’s great to have a common goal that we can build together. I’m actually a third generation Technician, as my grandfather John Cohen also worked in the industry at AWA in Tamworth before I was born. I grew up with Dad bringing home computers for repair, pulling them apart and putting them together again. There are pictures of me as a young child pulling a computer apart.
One of the things I love about what I do is that I’m always discovering new gadgets and amazing technologies.
What’s next for northTEC?
We are planning to introduce training in store that we will run after hours. It’s something I have always wanted to do, so that people can really make the most out of their devices. We will start with the basics – “Apple 101” – covering things such as setting up iTunes and email signatures and then expand into more advanced training such as making the most of the photography and video editing software that comes as standard on Apple devices.