Friday, May 03, 2019

Inside Track: VonMyhr’s mission: Access to tech Co-founder and CEO of Tech Defenders repairs laptops and tablets for school districts, donates technology to underprivileged students.

Garry VonMyhr and his partners opened the first physical Genius Phone Repair with about $9,000, half of which went to just the signage. Courtesy Tech Defenders

Garry VonMyhr is doing his part to ensure every child has access to technology. As co-founder and CEO of Tech Defenders, he’s been at the helm of a rapidly growing tech repair company in West Michigan with a mission to give back to the community.

VonMyhr first got into the business of technology repair through Jordan Notenbaum. The now-CEO of Mobile Defenders started a cell phone repair business called Note Tech Industries in 2009, a few years after the two of them had finished high school.

“Notenbaum: N-O-T-E is the start of that, so … it wasn’t the best name at the time, which is why we changed it,” VonMyhr said.

One of their first customers was local attorney Dirk Roskam, who offered them a retail space on Plainfield Avenue. VonMyhr and Notenbaum were hesitant at first. The two of them were about to graduate from Grand Valley and weren’t sure whether they wanted to take the business to the next level or pursue a different career.

VonMyhr’s entrepreneurial spirit won over in the end, but Note Tech needed better real estate.

“It would have been a bad decision because it was a really bad space on Plainfield, but we were two young kids,” VonMyhr said. “It was just a little hole-in-the-wall retail space … right next to the Fat Boy there. It’s not really a retail area.”

Steve Barnes, another partner who Joined Note Tech shortly after VonMyhr, talked them out of signing the lease.

Note Tech struggled to find a suitable location for a while, VonMyhr said. One early morning, however, he and Barnes were driving around Grandville and came upon the Design 1 complex on Wilson Avenue.“If you know Steve, he likes to play devil’s advocate and challenge things, which is good actually for us,” VonMyhr said.

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