Joe Ham has always enjoyed fixing things.
“When I was a kid, I used to get in a lot of trouble for just taking apart my toys,” Ham said. “My mom was like, ‘You are breaking your toys already.’”
His natural curiosity earned him the reputation of Mr. Fix It around his neighborhood as a child and eventually led him to a career in the repair business.
Earlier this year, Ham and his business partner, Norm Chung, started Gadget Genie, an electronic repair shop in Federal Way that specializes in in-depth fixes, such as circuit board repairs and data recovery.
Ham started doing repairs out of his Des Moines garage a couple of years ago. He reached out to local cell phone and electronic shops to drum up more business, which is how he met Chung, who invited Ham to work out of the back of one of Chung’s nine MetroPCS stores at 31007 Pacific Highway S. Suite C.
After seeing the success of Ham’s Micro Recovery Repairs, the duo decided to re-brand the business as Gadget Genie and become business partners.
While Gadget Genie can fix broken phone screens and other basic repairs, Ham offers services that other shops don’t and can often bring electronic devices back to life when others can’t, he said.
“A lot of businesses actually send us work,” he said. “I have a relationship with all these repair shops all around.”
He also gets business from across the country through his website.
Ham does much of the repairs under a microscope. The shop also has equipment to help revive water-damaged devices.
One of Ham’s favorite things to do is recover data from damaged or broken devices that people thought was lost forever.
“It gives you a good feeling when somebody comes in and they appreciate it,” he said. “A lot of baby pictures have been saved.”
Gadget Genie operates on a no-fix, no-fee basis.
“We will try to fix it or will find a solution,” he said. “If we can’t or we try and attempt a repair and it doesn’t work, we won’t charge you anything no matter how long, how much time we spend on it.”
Cell phones and tablets aren’t the only items Ham will repair. He said he will try to fix anything electronic and has worked on items ranging from VCRs to drones.
The strangest repair request Ham said he’s received was to fix a cellphone tower.
“The company called me and said we need you to solder this piece on to the cellphone tower,” Ham said. “I am thinking they are going to bring in some kind of little board, and this guy came in the truck, and the thing is super long.”
Ham successfully completed the repair.
The vision for the company, Ham said, is to become an information hub for other repair companies and customers.
“Later down the road we may end up selling tools and supplies for if you want to do it yourself, like fix the screen, and just follow the instructions,” he said.