Interviews

The Harmony Man with a passion for electronics

Nigel Crespel

The Repair Shop Jersey

You grew up in Jersey and attended De La Salle Catholic College. Could you tell us a little about your childhood and your love of singing from an early age?

My memories of growing up in Jersey were just about fun! I spent many summers cycling around the island and boating with my uncle. Summer seemed to last forever in those days! Schooling for me was at De La Salle, a family tradition. I didn’t really enjoy school in those days; I did not like being confined to a desk, however my love for music was recognised and  I joined the choir at the age of 11 and have never looked back.

I have been very fortunate, singing all over the world. The highlights being at The Royal Albert Hall,  St Pauls Cathedral and Notre Dame, in Paris. I am also a founding member of The Harmony Men, a male voice choir here in Jersey.

When did you first notice your passion for electronics?

I am not sure of the exact moment I became interested in electronics.  I was always taking things to bits just to see how they worked. I do recall trying to fix my father’s radiogram when I was about 13. Wearing  only shorts, I took the innards out and put them onto my bedroom floor, (nylon carpet) and plugged it in. I started poking around and the next minute, ended up on the other side of my bedroom in total shock having touched the chassis with my knee whilst holding a pair of tweezers against a component! A very big lesson and from there my curiosity grew into a passion for all things electrical.

You went straight from school into full-time employment, accepting a job at Redditronics, an organisation that manufactured sound systems for hotels. Did this role set you on your career path?

Redditronics gave me my first insight into big electrical organisations,  convincing me that my choice of career was correct. I soon realised that I was best suited to selling and repairing.

You then studied Electro-Mechanical engineering. What made you go back to academia after being in full-time employment?

After a while, I realised that I had gaps in my knowledge and time and time again came up against more technical and challenging issues with products. It was at that point that I chose to study Electro Mechanical Engineering.  In addition, I had taken over my first ever company and had started concentrating on building the repair side of the business.

In 2012, you took a job at Jersey College for Girls as an AVA and ICT Media Technician. Was this a role that merged your love of music with your love of electronics and what was the highlight of your time at JCG?

The job at Jersey College for Girls came out of the blue.  I spotted an advert in the JEP and had always fancied working in theatre, especially given both my electronic and musical backgrounds. Having never had to write a CV before, and only once had an interview, I was convinced that I would not get the job, besides, at that time I was already running my own business. 9 years later and I have never looked back, its like a paid hobby. There are so many highlights but the school productions are always memorable.

The support I have received from the public has been overwhelming, with a tsunami of customers bringing in their beloved items to be repaired.

After 43 years in the electronics industry, and then 6 years working out of your garage, The Repair Shop Jersey was born, inspired by your love of the BBC TV show. What was it like setting up your own business?

The satisfaction of opening a new business is incredible, especially when the results are immediate. I pulled together all my experience, ideas and wants into one package and was determined to make it happen. An opportunity arose when the current workshop became available and this enabled me to put all my plans into operation. The support I have received from the public has been overwhelming, with a tsunami of customers bringing in their beloved items to be repaired.

The Repair Shop Jersey has a strong environmental sustainability objective. Is this something your passionate about?

Jersey has, for a long time, been a throw away society. You only have to drive into the reclamation site to see the enormous pile of electronic products that have been dumped there. Jersey does recycle products, but on a ridiculously small scale and the excuses given are just not acceptable. They claim to recycle 50% of the waste that the island produces annually and only 20% of electronic items are being recycled. I am passionate about the environmental sustainability here in Jersey and aim to reduce our carbon footprint.

At The Repair Shop, we are repairing and restoring 98% of the items coming through the doors, with only a very small number not being repairable either due to not being able to source parts or actually being beyond economical repair.

What is your vision for the future of The Repair Shop Jersey?

In the long term, I would like to open a Repair Academy for students, affording them the opportunity to learn new skills and making them more eco aware.  I am already planning to offer electives within local schools. The new initiative from The States of Jersey, offering support to people looking for employment, is an area I am currently exploring, especially given the rate of growth and popularity of my new business within such a short period of time.

Your limited leisure time is spent riding your beloved Harley Davidson motorbike round the lanes of Jersey. Has this been lovingly restored by you as well and is bike restoration something you would consider doing?

When I do get the opportunity, I go on the Ride outs for charity and have recently joined the Jersey Harley Davidson Owners Group. I would love to restore a motorbike but can only imagine doing this, if and when I eventually retire!

What attracted you to the IoD and would you recommend it to other business start-ups?

For me, the IoD represents the best of Jerseys entrepreneurs and gives the opportunity to meet like minded people. If I won the Start-up category, it would be a realisation of all the hard work and perseverance over many years in business and recognition of my vision for sustainability in Jersey and across the Channel Islands within my new company.

Images courtesy of  The Jersey Evening Post and Rob Currie