REYNOLDSVILLE — Jay Humphrey has been doing two things for almost his entire life: rooting for the Pittsburgh Penguins and fixing televisions. He started helping out at his family’s business, Humphrey TV and Radio, when he was about 12 years old.
Humphrey, now the owner of that business, just turned 55 last week. He is part of the third generation of his family to run the shop, and he said he doesn’t plan on powering down any time soon.
Technology has changed a lot since Humphrey’s grandfather Frank Humphrey first went into business in 1935. An engineer in the U.S. Army, Frank Humphrey at first dealt only in radios.
That all changed with the advent of television, which Frank Humphrey adopted early. He started selling and repairing them in 1948, becoming a licensed Zenith dealer in the years afterward.
“Growing up, there were three sets,” Humphrey recalled. “Zenith, Magnavox and RCA, and they would periodically flip-flop over the years who had the best.”
Nowadays, Humphrey mostly sells and repairs flat screen sets instead of bulky tube TVs. He said the current iteration of electronics isn’t any more challenging to grapple with than the last, but the difficulty of repairs can vary from one case to another.
“Let’s face it: no matter what you do in life, things go smooth and then other days, you get a headache,” he said.
Humphrey’s shop is a maze of television sets new and old, with a work area nestled in the back. Splayed across his workbench are dissected flat screen models, the tools of his trade lying beside them: needle nose pliers, screwdrivers, soldering equipment and toothbrushes.
He’s the only member of his family left running the business, though he said his brother Todd is only a call away if he needs a hand on big projects.
“I’ve got a great brother,” Humphrey said.
Though no one is poised to take over the business after him, Humphrey said he plans to keep it running for as long as he can.
“It would be nice for me to call it quits on my terms, not because I have to,” he said.