As one of the few repair shops in Rainy River District, Kupila's Sound Centre in Devlin has become a trusted name in electronics with continued success as it celebrates its 20th anniversary.
Miles Kupila started the business officially in 1997 but the 57-year-old said he has been repairing TVs since he was just 13.
From there, he began working in a few repair shops around the area until 20 years ago, when he decided to leave his job and start his own business.
“One of the things I brag about is that we started the business with basically just the thought, the dream, and a credit card,” Kupila told the Times last week.
Now the small green shop next to his home on Highway 11 hosts a number of repair projects, various parts and products, and a steady stream of customers looking for help.
“It's been a lot of long hours,” Kupila admitted.
“When a person says, 'You own your business and you can call your own hours,' it's more like, 'What time of night do you shut the lights off and go to bed?'” he explained.
But Kupila said he doesn't regret starting his own business, and still enjoys the work and the wide clientele he has seen over the years.
“You put a stereo in the parents' car, then all of a sudden you find out they are grandparents and now you see the grandson showing up and we're putting a stereo in his car,” Kupila noted.
“It makes a person feel old some days but still, it's kind of neat.”
In a business that has him working on something different every day, one of the highlights for Kupila was just last year when he was able to work on a DeLorean-a dream project of his since he first sat in one in Toronto during a fabrication course in the 1980s.
Kupila said he got the call from a man across the river with a “unique car” and said a few people had given him Kupila's name.
“When he said it was a 1981 DeLorean, I said it was not a problem because I knew the car,” he recalled.
Something that has changed drastically for Kupila has been the TV repair side of things, which has become mostly circuit board changes in the new flatscreens as the technology becomes more sophisticated.
However, he said it's become more difficult to figure out which board to change because many problems give the same symptoms.
“So now it's technically easier to repair but mentally thinking through the process is harder,” he remarked.
Kupila also works on communications equipment, car stereos, and remote start and navigation unit installations, as well as sound systems for arenas, gyms, halls, funeral homes, and just recently, the grandstand at the Emo fairgrounds.
“It's a fast-paced business jumping from programing a radio one minute to the next minute repairing a car to the next minute looking at a TV,” Kupila said.
He noted he's had other people working for him over the years, and will hire others to help on big jobs. But for the most part, it is just him running the business.
Kupila added he has the licence to train other technicians, but the nature of the work makes it very difficult.
“I've had a couple of people say, 'No, I can't think, I can't be jumping around like this, it isn't right,'” he admitted.
Despite that difficulty, however, Kupila actually has found it easier over the years to stay trained and aware of the latest technologies by making connections on the Internet.
“Back in the old day, we used to jump in the car and travel to the cities and sit in training courses for days,” he recalled.
“Now you grab your cup of coffee, sit down in front of your computer screen with about 60 other people in a live chat room, and do online courses.”
According to Kupila, if a company makes a mistake, the technicians will know right away when they take these courses.
Then if they can't figure out a counter-measure to do in their shops, they know the parts to fix the problem already are being sent out.
“It's better than you sitting there scratching your head until you call someone and they say they also think there is a problem,” he reasoned.
“Now we know very quickly.”
Overall, Kupila said he still enjoys working, solving problems, and running his own business.
And after joking about the “rough commute” (walking from his house to the shop while holding a cup of coffee), Kupila said he does not plan on retiring or closing up the shop anytime soon.