Expanding his business
La PORTE — A 15-year-old’s dream of owning his own business is alive and well in La Porte.
The road to entrepreneurship for Bailey Huber, owner of ifixUP, began when his family was faced with cell phone repairs of their own. His mom, Amy Huber, accidentally dropped hers in water and then Bailey’s own phone broke. After tearing them down, he nearly got them both back to working condition but turned to Michigan City’s Pod Drop for help to finish off the repairs.
“Owner Allyson Kazmucha led me through and showed me what I did wrong,” Bailey recalled.
Soon, “my friends were coming to my house for repairs on their phones. I would sit at the desk I did my homework at and repair their phones while their parents waited in the driveway for them,” Bailey added.
Then, at age 14, he got a job at the Pod Drop working around the shop cleaning, keeping track of inventory and other small jobs for Kazmucha.
Not long after, she called Bailey’s dad, Cory Huber, and asked, “Would you mind if I allowed Bailey to start working on these phones?”
“She was so impressed,” said Cory. “Bailey was fixing phones faster than she was.”
About a year later, Kazmucha was looking to sell the business as she began writing for an online technology site. At first, Bailey called his father upset that he didn’t know what he was going to do now that the store was closing.
But, it wasn’t long before he told Cory, “I got this all figured out. I know what we’re going to do. We’re going to buy the place.”
And, that’s what they did in September 2013.
As circumstances would have it, Bailey had just inherited a jeep after his grandmother passed away and he sold it to help fund the new business venture.
Starting up and running his own business wasn’t completely a foreign idea for Bailey though. Just out of high school himself, Cory had successfully owned and operated Maple City Lawn Care, from 1990-1993. And. Bailey’s uncle, Terry Huber, is owner of Huber’s Marine in La Porte, which began in 1984.
“It’s something that’s in the family a little bit,” Cory said.
Immediately after the purchase, Bailey moved the business to 809 Jefferson Ave. in La Porte to be closer to home. Then, on Nov. 1 of this year, ifixUP moved to a much larger 1,000 square-foot space at 212 Pine Lake Ave. near Taco Bell and between Papa Johns Pizza and Subway. The store’s grand opening was Nov. 2-4 with a ribbon-cutting ceremony by the Greater LaPorte Chamber of Commerce, refreshments, a guess-the-candy-corn drawing for an OtterBox phone case and 10 percent discounts on screen repairs and cases (that still apply).
“We’re very excited to be here,” said Cory. “Everybody says, ‘location, location, location.’ We had our second best month ever here last month.”
“There’s so much foot traffic. Before, there was almost always a phone call before someone came in,” added Bailey. “It’s definitely a big incline from the old store. Location has been awesome.”
When he first opened ifixUP, Bailey concentrated only on Apple products, but now fixes all brands and models of phones and tablets; within the past few months, ifixUP has added computers and video game consoles to their line-up too.
“I’m working toward full service for all makes and models of all electronics,” Bailey said.
The store also sells phone accessories including chargers, cases, Apple watchbands and wireless earpods. And, ifixUP buys, sells and trades all electronics.
“We will recycle any used phone or battery the correct way for no charge,” Bailey noted. “Once the screen is broken on a phone it’s not necessarily needing to be thrown out. We may give you money for parts.”
“He’s basically self-taught,” Cory proudly described his son. “He’s got a successful business. He’s kept growing and growing. Here we are six years later with a completely remodeled showroom in a new location. He’s in it for the long haul now.”
Cory helps his son with financial and legal matters for the business as well as assisting customers, and older brother Connor Huber concentrates on software development for ifixUP.
And, to top things off, Bailey began an additional business out of the same location in May 2018. Northwest Indiana Party Rentals offers tents, cotton candy and popcorn machines, bounce houses, tables and chairs for rent. It services all of Northwest Indiana, but is available to other areas upon request. Customers are charged a delivery charge per mile.
“The first year has been awesome. I started out with four bounce houses, including the one my parents have rented out since I was little. Every weekend all four were being rented out. I got eight more and then each weekend we were renting out all 12,” Bailey said.
To help meet more customers, Bailey could be seen at the La Porte Farmers Market representing Northwest Indiana Party Rentals this past summer too.
Hours for ifixUP are 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Sunday; walk-ins are welcome. The store will be closed for the holidays from Dec. 22 through Jan. 1.
For more information, go to www.ifixup.tech, “ifixUP” on Facebook or call (219) 229-8285. Northwest Indiana Party Rentals, which is available on a 24-hour, on-call basis, may be reached at (574) 299-3668; more information is available on Facebook at “NWI Party Rental.”