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With Roots That Resemble Apple, MacMechanic Remains In Tune with Its Customers

It's not such a long way from its start in a garage, and the Apple specialist continues to emphasize service and experience

Apple recently passed ExxonMobil to become the world’s most valuable company, and Santa Barbara-based MacMechanic has capitalized on its success.

But MacMechanic founder Mike Bishop has been keeping Apple products running smoothly since 1985, and opened his store when Apple was far from the behemoth it is today.

“When Mike maybe should’ve given up, he was opening a store dedicated to a company that people were saying was worthless and had rumors of going bankrupt, and it paid off,” MacMechanic manager Jeff Wilky said.

Bishop began working with Apple products when Richard’s Accurate Import Service, 401 Santa Barbara St., used them to digitize its business. Apple computers were using a point-and-click graphic user interface when personal computers were using the typing-based DOS. It was a no-brainer, Bishop said.

“You would click on a customer’s name and all their information comes up,” he said.

The shop wanted a multiuser system so mechanics could see the history of each part installed, and they began beta testing for Turbo Mac, an early business software. Richard’s Accurate was one of the first and few remaining businesses that could repair the system. Customers started asking for the “Mac mechanic.”

“Everyone would say I want to see the Mac mechanic,” Bishop said. “People would come all the way from Fresno and bring their machines for repair.”

Soon Bishop began selling computers and dedicated a whole bay at Richard’s Accurate Imports to Apple products. One of his customers recommended a location that opened up at nearby 216 E. Gutierrez St. and Bishop and his team have been there for 12 years.

Once MacMechanic started selling Apple products, the company branded them as one of 175 specialists in the country. Bishop and his 10-member team used the top floor for on-site repairs and the bottom floor as a showroom.

But once Apple opened a store of its own on State Street, Bishop said MacMechanic had to change its approach to compete.

“What Mike has been able to do is put this influence on customer service,” Wilky said. “Even with something like a retail store opening, we were able to not only survive but thrive.”

Doing it right the first time keeps them coming back, he added.

Unlike the Apple store, MacMechanic takes walk-ins and will repair a product for any reason. It also offers weekly classes, free data transfer, free and convenient parking and makes house calls.

“But we’re friends, not foes (with the Apple store),” Bishop said. “We have a great relationship.”

With each “paradigm shift,” as Bishop calls it, like when Apple debuted the iMac, iPod, iPhone and iPad, MacMechanic’s business doubles. Wilky expects the iCloud will have a similar effect.

“We’re the local Mac shop that’s been with Apple through thick and thin,” Wilky said. “When Macs weren’t cool, we were here and Mike was doing his thing out of a garage. When Apple grew as a company, we grew and we’ve become the community staple.”

Click here for more information on MacMechanic, or call 805.965.9722. Connect with MacMechanic on Facebook. Follow MacMechanic on Twitter: @MacMechanicSB.

Noozhawk business writer Alex Kacik can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

A MacMechanic team photo includes, from right, manager Jeff Wilky, owner Mike Bishop and sales and service associates Kevin Bennet, Nina Demast, Peter Munoz, Adam Bock, Ron Fisk, Sean Delaney and Joe LaCorte.
A MacMechanic team photo includes, from right, manager Jeff Wilky, owner Mike Bishop and sales and service associates Kevin Bennet, Nina Demast, Peter Munoz, Adam Bock, Ron Fisk, Sean Delaney and Joe LaCorte. (Alex Kacik / Noozhawk photo)

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