By Joe Earle
Danny Sertich, like many a child of the ’50s and ’60s, grew up around TVs. He still remembers his family’s first TV and first color set. He was fascinated by them.
He started hanging around a local TV repair shop in Buckhead when he was about 10 years old, he said. “I used to walk up to the TV shop at Roswell and Wieuca [roads],” he recalled recently. “They would let me rummage through the garbage. Eventually, they let me sweep up.”
He watched the repairmen take TV sets apart to fix them. Soon, he was doing the same. He liked taking things apart and putting them back together. “I saw something, and I wanted to know how it worked, and if it didn’t work, I wanted to find out what’s wrong with it,” he said.
Sertich hung around the TV repair shop, called Precision TV, so much that they eventually let him work on stuff himself. By high school, he had an after-school job there. He’s still working there. Now 56, he owns Precision TV. “I’m doing work for the grandkids of customers I had in the 1960s,” he said.
The shop, smaller now and relocated to Sandy Springs Circle in 1988, still is crammed with TVs in need of repair. Partially disassembled TVs sit on Sertich’s workbench as he tries to coax them back to life. In the afternoons, he makes house calls to repair sets in his customers’ homes.
Yes, house calls. Even in this day of throwaway consumer culture, when it seems it can be cheaper to buy a new set than fix an old one, Sertich and other TV repairmen say they haven’t yet gone the way of the long-suffering Maytag Repairman of the commercials.There are still plenty of sets needing repair.
In Buckhead, Alex Naumis, 65, owns and operates Buckhead TV on Pharr Road, a company that has been fixing TVs since the ‘50s. And near Brookhaven, Bill Waller Jr. runs Clairmont Skyland Radio and TV at Clairmont Road and Buford Highway, a company his dad started in 1959. Waller, who’s 52, said the shop he uses, the one his dad built, stands on land his grandfather farmed.
Waller’s dad taught himself to repair TVs. The younger Waller said he grew up in the business. “My dad would haul us out of bed, my brother and I, and we had to work on the weekends,” he said. “I installed antennas. I did the roughneck work.”
His shop now repairs TVs and ham radios, he said. He also occasionally rents old radios or other electronic equipment for use on stage sets for period plays or movies, he said.
The shop stays busy, Waller said. “The new technology, it’s more unreliable.”
Sertich says he’s drawn to the older sets. His Sandy Springs home has become a sort of museum to them. Every nook and cranny is packed with TVs, radios or stereos or parts of TVs, radios and stereos. He especially likes console TVs and collects vintage console sets.
He’s also a member of the Southern Antique Radio Society.
TVs and the TV repair business have changed from the days when Sertich used to hang around his neighborhood repair shop. In those days, a family might have a single big color TV that everyone watched and that, if it broke, could be repaired relatively easily. Now sets are more complicated and families might have a color set in every room, he said. “Families that may have had one color TV back then may now have five,” he said.
Still, there are sets to fix. Sertich said he gets a lot of calls after the holidays. “Relatives come in and think they know how the TV is supposed to work,” he said, so they change the settings on the TV and the remotes. Then, when they leave, nobody can figure out how to turn on the TV.
So they call in the TV repairman. After all, he’s been figuring out how to make TVs work since he was a kid.