MacSpecialist hopes to meet customers’ Apple needs
Adam Karneboge, president and CEO of Oak Park’s new MacSpecialist. | Meredith Morris~for Sun-Times Media
Updated: November 26, 2012 6:11AM
OAK PARK — MacSpecialist is fruit sprouting from the same tree as Apple stores, yet an independent entity.
Located at 805 Lake St., the 2,000-square-foot enterprise can spare local Apple owners time-consuming trips to an Apple store. It also offers its own array of training and installation services.
MacSpecialist is one of 50 to 100 authorized Apple resellers in the nation, specially designated in terms of the volume of business it does and customer service ratings it maintains, President and CEO Adam Karneboge said. Karneboge also owns the MacSpecialist in Villa Park.
“We are authorized to repair the whole gamut of Apple products, in warranty or out of warranty,” Karneboge said. That includes computers, iPads, iPods and more. The store also sells Apple products and serves as a direct dispatch service provider for Apple, meaning if Apple orders a part to fix a product that malfunctions under warranty, MacSpecialist could deliver it.
Rather than being an Apple competitor, MacSpecialist is a partner. It also offers tailored options to Apple-oriented home and business owners.
“We’ll go out to your house and get everything working for you,” Karneboge said. “Maybe you have three or four computers and want them all integrated. We can just install them, and offer training at the same time or later. Whatever meets the customer’s needs.”
Karneboge’s staff of about 40 full- and part-time employees spread across two stores can assist homes and offices with installation and integration of computers, as well as anything that comes into contact with them, such as stereo systems or lighting.
They also offer basic through expert-level training in the new store’s state-of-the-art classroom facility.
“A school or business will send their people to us,” Karneboge said. “Apple will refer people to us for professional certification training.”
One 10-year customer, Mark Boroughf, considers MacSpecialist the IT department of his Roselle printing shop.
“As a small business owner with a desire to have a full network of assorted Macs and compatible products, I knew it would be best to turn to a professional source,” Boroughf said. “From my network infrastructure, workstation, backup and server maintenance needs, I’ve enjoyed the peace of mind they bring. Their service and support are a key factor in my decision to buy and maintain the Mac platform.”
Karneboge also teaches IT professionals. He spends about two-thirds of his work year on the road engaged in “train the trainer” education, including trips to Apple headquarters in Cupertino, Calif., to train Apple personnel.
“I’m what’s called a mentor-trainer,” he said.
In addition to operating two stores in the Chicago area, MacSpecialist has breached what Karneboge saw as a “huge untapped market” for Apple training in Alaska. With Apple’s approval, MacSpecialist opened a dedicated training facility in Anchorage to serve schools, businesses and consumers.
Karneboge’s team is one of about 20 companies nationwide that’s Apple-authorized to provide and install large volumes of computers in schools. Such large-scale roll-outs, also including businesses, are a significant percentage of MacSpecialist sales.
Karneboge, who was raised and lives in New Lenox, became familiar with the Oak Park area when he attended Dominican University. A self-taught computer specialist, he worked for MacSpecialist in Villa Park, which started further west in 1985 as Glen Ellyn Computers, and bought it from the owners in 2006.
He’s glad to be in Oak Park now. Demographic research showed there are 850,000 people within a 4.5-mile radius without immediate access to an Apple store.
“We’ve been really well-received,” he said, since the shop’s Oct. 1 opening. “We’ve had tremendous support from the Oak Park community. The mayor cut the ribbon with me.”