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Enterprise Journal

‘I was working 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. every single day’: The entrepreneurship story of a St. Ansgar graduate

Sep 03, 2020 10:52AM ● By Sam Riley

Scott Hemann (Left) and Haynes (Right), both STA grads, stand in front of the original Cedar Falls location.

When I started my Zoom meeting with Adam Haynes last Wednesday morning, he was in the driver’s seat of his Tesla, parked at a charging station and in the middle of a phone call, helping a fellow business owner troubleshoot a problem plaguing the phones at the latter’s business. This should demonstrate just how busy a man he is.

Haynes, who graduated from St. Ansgar in 2014, has spent the past three-and-a-half years operating and growing his own cell phone repair business. The evolution from consumer to business owner began during his sophomore year of high school, when he broke his iPhone.

“My parents said, ‘You broke it, you’re going to deal with it,’” he remembered.

Haynes had heard from a friend’s mother that it was possible to purchase replacement parts for the phone online. After an initial misstep of ordering the wrong part, Haynes managed to successfully fix the phone himself. This experience revealed to him the opportunity he had been looking for.

“My dad would buy old cars, part them out, and sell the parts on eBay,” Haynes said. “I kind of wanted something I could do similar to that.”

Haynes approached his parents with the idea to take his father’s method and apply it to cell phones.

“They were kind of iffy about it at first. They didn’t say no, but they also weren’t crazy about it.”
With his parents’ cautious approval, Haynes started buying broken phones from all across the country on Craigslist. After repairing the phones, he would then sell them on eBay for a profit. He also began making money fixing phones for his classmates and others in the St. Ansgar area.

After graduating, Haynes attended the University of Northern Iowa and tried out a few different programs, including pre-med, computer science, and actuary science, but it was the summer after his freshman year that set him on his current career path, when he began working at a company in Rochester called Fast Phone Repair.

“The whole summer went really well,” Haynes said. “The guys who ran it thought I was doing a really good job.” 

Haynes was doing such a good job, in fact, that his bosses wanted him to move to Mankato to open a second location, an offer he initially declined.

“I was like, ‘No, I’m going to school, I’m going to get my degree, kind of go that route,’” Haynes recalled.

However, without a strong idea of what he wanted to study, and failing to find a subject about which he was really passionate, Haynes decided to withdraw from UNI and accept his bosses’ previous offer to open a location of their business in Mankato.

Haynes working with family and friends on setting up the first store.

Haynes moved to Mankato to run the second location in December 2015. However, after roughly six months there, he realized his true desire was to run his own business. Haynes spent the following months saving up as much money as possible, living in a back room of the store for most of that time.

By March of 2017, he was ready to start his own business, and had been scouting locations.
“I knew I wanted to do it in Cedar Falls because I thought there was a good opportunity there based on competition and I was pretty familiar with the area.”

After securing a location, Haynes moved to Cedar Falls and officially opened the store, which he named Quick Phix, at the end of April.

In the very beginning, Haynes worked from open to close seven days a week for six months straight, effectively taking on every responsibility himself.

“I did everything, from bookkeeping to marketing, to phone calls-- literally, everything.”

Haynes would get to the store no later than 8 a.m. and spend the morning working on back end items such as bookkeeping and responding to emails. Then, he would move on to repairs, and once the store opened, helping customers, both of which he would continue to do until closing time.

Despite the heavy workload, the beginning stages were relatively smooth for Haynes.
“From the beginning, things went really well,” he said. “We didn’t have a ton of hurdles.” 

One early stroke of good fortune came when two weeks prior to opening his store, the main competitor in Cedar Falls went out of business. Haynes also attributes the company’s early success to their dedication to a positive customer experience.

“We came in and offered great customer service,” he said. “We made sure to do all the little things you would expect a business to do.”

While the store was prosperous early on, Haynes said he was not entirely without worry.
“For me, it was a little scary in the beginning,” Haynes said. “This is brand new, you don’t really have any guarantees… but I was excited.”

After the success of the first store, Haynes opened a second location in Waterloo. As he hired more employees, Haynes started to take a less hands-on role; instead, he focused on overseeing the two locations and making sure things were running smoothly, though Haynes said he still did some repairs to help lighten his employees’ workload.

These employees, Haynes says, were integral to making his business so successful.

“By no means have I done this by myself,” Haynes asserted. “There are so many guys that have gone above and beyond to help build this business. It would not be where it’s at today without all of them.”

Haynes and his employees pose for a picture.

Haynes continued to grow the business, opening a third location in Dubuque in May 2018, at which point he was back to running a one-man operation. Haynes would drive to Dubuque and back to Cedar Falls every day to run the store himself.

“It was probably three or four months straight where I was working 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. every single day,” Haynes remembered fondly. “That was a fun stretch.”

Haynes acquired the two most recent locations, in Cedar Rapids and Coralville, respectively, in June of last year. As those two stores were already owned by another company, Haynes had to rebrand his existing stores from Quick Phix to CPR Cell Phone Repair in order to operate them without a conflict of interest.

In October of that year, CPR was bought out by a multi-million dollar insurance company, which Haynes says has been good for the business.

“Basically, they just give us a lot more power and a lot more options, long-term.”

Today, Haynes’ role consists of visiting each store at least once a week and overseeing the daily operations to ensure things are running smoothly.

“I want to make sure we’re operationally dialed in,” Haynes said, “and consistently doing all the little things correctly to deliver a great customer experience.”

When the COVID-19 pandemic initially hit, Haynes said he was worried about what would happen.

“There was a two-week period where we were operating at less than 50 percent of our normal volume,” Haynes said. “It was pretty concerning.”

However, within a month after the initial panic, traffic was back to normal. Haynes attributed the lack of decrease in customers to the fact that cell phones are so essential, a fact that saved them from having to temporarily close like many other businesses.

“People need to be able to communicate. They need their phones for every aspect of their daily lives.”

As for the future, Haynes said he plans to continue expanding the business and opening more locations once the pandemic subsides.

“I really enjoy building and growing this business, and that’s what I want to continue to do.”