Mick Guinn vividly remembers his first Apple Macintosh computer, still a relatively new, boxy machine in 1990.
Guinn thought he could make his computer faster by adding the latest software, so he took it apart.
“Why would you do that?” Guinn said on a recent morning, laughing at the naivety of disassembling still-foreign technology.
When the Mac wouldn’t restart, Guinn, who grew up in Santa Barbara but was living in Tokyo at the time, was heartbroken.
Fortunately, a colleague and Internet Mac experts were able to help him zero in on the problem: faulty new software.
“And I was hooked,” said Guinn, whose Mick’s Macs Apple repair business is sailing into its eighth year.
Guinn operates his concierge-like business from an extension on the garage of his Mesa home, about a block away from the beach, where small-business owners or other individuals come in for consultation or repairs on an appointment basis.
More popular, however, are the “house calls” Mick’s Macs Apple-certified technicians make for water spill damage, troubleshooting or general consulting on any Apple device.
Guinn makes his tech support business personalized and transparent, with the type of old-school mechanics who tell a client what must be fixed, what can be fixed and when.
Whatever he’s doing, about 4,000 loyal customers and recipients of his nutty newsletters must like it.
“The more people trust us, the more they can be honest with us about what they actually did to their computer,” Guinn said. “The transparency creates trust. I really believe that we’re in customer service.”
Guinn said he first became interested in Apple computers while living in Japan and working in the advertising industry after graduating from UC Santa Barbara.
He came back to the South Coast in 1997 to begin his own Apple consultant business, which catered mostly to friends and charged a sushi dinner as payment.
“I ate a lot of sushi,” he laughed.
After working for a private family foundation for a while, Guinn decided to go back to consulting full time and created Mick’s Macs in 2006. Within a couple of months, he had to hire a second Apple expert.
Now the number of technicians serving Santa Barbara County clients fluctuates between two and six, depending on demand.
Because Mick’s Macs is not a retail outlet or tied to corporate protocols like an Apple store, technicians can offer gentle guidance and suggest solutions — most of which focus on repair instead of replacement.
“I really believe that we’re trying to be truly excellent at everything we can do,” Guinn said. “I like what we do. If I can grow this business and still do it well, I will.”
Staying grounded while working on a device that clients typically care deeply about is a company cornerstone.
Hence a slogan — “Relax. We got this.” — that guarantees customers won’t endure the same level of stress Guinn encountered 24 years ago.