Volume 75, Number 16 | September 07 - 13, 2005

Villager photos by Elisabeth Robert

Tekserve co-owners David Lerner, left, and Dick Demenus.

Tekserve are the Mac daddies for all things Apple

By Olga Mantilla

Apple computer repair stores abound in the city that never sleeps without first surfing eBay for sold out concert tickets and checking e-mail one last time. There are corporate stores, like the Apple Store in Soho, that constantly push the latest innovations to droves of tourists and metropolitan-area Mac enthusiasts. On the other extreme, there are smaller independently owned businesses, like Tekserve, an Apple computer repair, resale and retail shop that tests and reviews Apple gadgets before deciding to put it on their shelves. The company is attracting Apple-users from the five boroughs and beyond thanks to its extremely frank and consumer-friendly approach.

“We don’t sell all Mac products. We evaluate them and reject the losers so you don’t have to,” Dick Demenus, co-owner of Tekserve, writes in a recent store publication. Tekserve, at 119 W. 23rd St., rests quietly assured of its continued success in Chelsea even as its larger counterpart finalizes plans to open two new Apple stores in the city, one within blocks of Tekserve.

Tekserve technicians at work on iBook laptop computers
Though Demenus says the company does “draw on the neighborhood more because of the convenience factor,” Tekserve reaches out “to the metropolitan area and has national and international clients. We have a large base of loyal customers,” Demenus assures.

Tekserve started out with Demenus, David Lerner and Mike Edl, three techies who were working at a nonprofit New York radio station. After seven years at the station, the trio founded Current Designs, the precursor to Tekserve. One of various exceptional projects the company designed and built is a listening station for records, CDs and cassettes that were bought by the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts at Lincoln Center. The station is still in public use 20 years later.

“The store is an extension of my weird personality,” Demenus contentedly admitted as he zigzaged his way through employees lounging around the shipment area. The store’s basement and ground floor are filled with a wide array of antique radios, cameras, phones and vintage Macs from Demenus’s personal collection.

Layered with fantastic vintage items, the store is an eclectic and homey alternative to the Soho Apple Store, the latter backed directly by its $3.4 billion parent company.

It has a pleasant ambience for customers and employees, most of whom can be found tinkering with scattered Mac pieces at repair tables, or cheerfully advising and socializing with fellow employees and customers. From the stripped-down parquet floor to the antique technological gizmos filling every available nook, the shop seems more like a friendly lounge, with a helpful, hip, Mac-savvy staff milling around amid the Apple G5s and Mac accessories, creating a cool environment.

Frank Taveras, a Tekserve supervisor, has been with the company four and half years and felt the camaraderie and team effort at the store are the best advantages of working there. “You’re not working for yourself — if it doesn’t work for you it doesn’t work for anyone,” he said.

Demenus doesn’t seem the type of guy to mind what his employees dare to don, as long as they’re friendly.

“This operation has more of an old school feel to it,” said salesperson Lorenzo Galvez.

And who wouldn’t love working in a place that declares Tuesday “Breakfast Day”?

“We feed our staff every day except Monday,” said Demenus, as he lingered in the basement floor of the store’s 25,000-foot space. “Wednesday we order out. Thursdays we have a large buffet. Friday we order pizza. We order out on Saturday and Sunday too.”

Tekserve has had five relocations in the past 15 years, a response to both higher demand for the company’s services and its own interests in branching out to retail and a larger consumer base. From humble beginnings, today the company has 125 employees.
Tekserve used to be located up a few floors from the street on 23rd St. But now — like the Soho Apple Store — they too are on street level.

“It was a big shock, moving to the ground floor,” admitted Demenus. “We never had to deal with the public before.”

One constant, though, has been the store’s unwavering focus on Apple and Macintosh computers.

“We bought the very first Mac that came out in 1984 for $3,000, and we fell in love with it,” said Demenus. “We’ve been loyal ever since.”

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