Electrical and Electronic Repair Shops, NEC

SIC 7629

Industry report:

This industry category includes establishments that primarily repair electrical and electronic equipment, such as electrical household appliances and electrical and electronic industrial equipment.

Specialized electronic repair emerged as an industry after electrical devices appeared in the late 1800s and early 1900s. The development of electronic standards and measuring devices in the 1890s was pivotal to the industry's birth. The profusion of new electrical and electronic goods after World War II pushed miscellaneous electrical repair industry revenues to nearly $2 billion by the end of the 1970s.

Widespread semiconductor use during the 1970s and 1980s in turn expanded the use of electronics in U.S. homes and businesses. Miniaturized electronics were integrated into traditional items from home appliances to razors and created new product categories, such as microwave ovens and fax machines.

Electrical repairers held approximately 94,500 jobs in 2009, according to Dun & Bradstreet. About 42 percent of salaried repairers worked in retail trade establishments, especially department stores and electronics and appliance stores, and about 20 percent of repairers were self-employed. Demand for appliance repairers was expected to remain stable through 2014, although costs for new appliances often led consumers to replace broken products rather than have them repaired, and do-it-yourself appliance repair was increasing due to guides, advice, and access to parts on the Internet through such sites as RepairClinic.com. In October 2005 Consumer Reports published results of a poll of 2,300 subscribers that revealed readers had commissioned repairs on 16 percent fewer products, including several high cost items, than they had in 1997. In more than half of those cases, consumers purchased new products rather than repair an item. However, when the U.S. economy fell into a deep recession at the end of the first decade of the 2000s, the demand for repair services increased as consumers delayed such big-ticket item purchases as appliances, repairing their existing units instead.

According to Dun & Bradstreet, in 2009 the electrical repair industry as a whole was made up of 19,266 firms. Of these, nearly one-half were single-owner proprietorships, and more than 80 percent had fewer than five employees. However, while these small firms generated an average of $100,00 to $200,000 in annual revenues, the largest four firms averaged over $760 million in revenues. While the vast majority of sales were attributed to electrical repair shops, the industry also includes a wide array of specialized electrical services, such as electrical measuring instrument repair and calibration, telephone repair, vacuum cleaner repair, and circuit board repair.

The Maytag Corporation, a sales leader of washers and dryers during the second half of the twentieth century, emphasized the quality of its products through commercials that portrayed the loneliness of the Maytag repairman. In the early years of the first decade of the 2000s, Maytag offered its All Brand Service, but when the Whirlpool Corporation purchased Maytag in 2006, it clustered repair services under A&E Factory Service, an all-brand service operation with over 3,400 technicians nationwide. Sears Product Repair Services continued to operate as an industry leader, along with Mr. Appliance, which had more than 150 franchises nationwide in 2012. Mr. Appliance was a subsidiary of the Dwyer Group, Inc., based in Waco, Texas. In the first decade of the 2000s, Dwyer was one of the world's largest holding companies of franchised service business. In late 2010 Dwyer was acquired by private equity fund TZP Capital Partners in a deal worth $150 million. Dwyer continued to provide service through a variety of subsidiaries, including Glass Doctor, Mr. Electric, Mr. Rooter, and Rainbow International Restoration and Cleaning.

At the beginning of the 2010s, participants in this vast industry were faced with both opportunities and challenges. Although many businesses had survived the economic recession at the end of the first decade of the 2000s due to consumers' choosing to repair existing equipment rather than buying new, that trend was expected to dissipate as Americans had more discretionary income and were drawn to new products on the market boasting technologically advanced features. However, the increasing prices of such appliances and devices were expected to dampen new sales somewhat, which boded well for the repair industry overall into the 2010s.

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