Behind the scenes at the Amac headquarters in Utrecht; thousands of iPhones come from here

At the back of the Leidsche Rijn district in Utrecht, the red building The Wall is spread out over the landscape. Amac can be found in the crown of this oblong building, not only with a shop but also with the office. Hidden deeper in the building, repairs and distribution are also arranged. Owner Ed Bindels takes us behind the scenes at Amac.

This is the Amac location ‘The Wall’. It’s not called headquarters, because this store is no better than any of the other stores in the Netherlands, says Bindels. There are now fifty of these, spread across the country. Here in The Wall is also the office and units are repaired. “We started the Apple Center in 2005, which was based on an old Apple franchise. Previously, apart from the Apple Store, there was no other sales channel,” says Bindels.

Amac is now the only Apple Premium dealer in the Netherlands. This means that Amac only sells products from Apple. In addition to Apple products, this also includes various accessories, e.g. These products often have slightly better prices than in an Apple Store. Still, there’s a difference: an Apple Store is a store run by Apple itself, so it’s not an independent retailer.

An Apple Premium reseller like Amac is not managed by Apple. Although there are strict requirements for these stores. For example, employees are trained by Apple so they know more about Apple products than people working in other electronics stores. Unlike the Apple Store, Amac is located throughout the country. The fifty Amac locations can be found from Groningen to Maastricht, with Apple Stores only in Amsterdam, The Hague and Haarlem. So there are no Apple Stores here in Utrecht, but there are three Amac stores.

And with the fifty stores, Amac is a familiar face in the local street scene for most people in the Netherlands. All these stores are operated according to the same regime. “The store design is determined by Apple,” explains Ed Bindels. “From the furniture to the placement of the various Apple products, everything is down to the last centimeter. All devices are also supposed to have the latest updates installed.” If an inspector comes and you, as the store manager, are found not to have things in order, there will be a cross after your name. A warning is then sent to the store manager. If an Amac store is always going wrong, there is a chance it will have to close its doors. “It has happened a few times, but not in the Netherlands.”

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We enter the elevator to the repair department. Music plays on the floor where the repairmen are working. The atmosphere is relaxed, but the work is concentrated meanwhile. One of the repairmen is bent over a mobile phone with headphones on. He looks up, smiles, then goes back into his bubble of concentration. His colleague has some time to explain a few things. There are all kinds of separate devices on some tables. The cutouts show they’re intended for iPhones, but otherwise don’t reveal much about their function. “We use this to detach the screen on iPhones from the unit,” explains the repairman.

“The screens are glued to the mobile phone in such a way that you can’t just get them loose. This clamp heats the edge of the phone so the glue comes off on its own.” It is then lifted off with a suction cup. Tupperware containers of sand can also be found on the tables. What is it good for? Bindels: “You need that to ‘turn off’ batteries. In the unlikely event that they catch fire, you pour the sand over them.” Understandably, with a few hundred repairable laptops, computers and phones on the work floor, you naturally want to prevent the sprinklers from going off.

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Some Amac stores also have phone repair technicians on site. The device to be repaired does not then need to go back and forth to Utrecht. A little further on, the computers are being repaired. “It only happens here,” explains Bindels, “because you really need a different kind of specialist for that. Especially to diagnose. What often happens is that the specialists diagnose and then someone else does the repair. “

Down a few stairs and we arrive at the distribution center in Amac. From here, all orders for the shops and people at home are selected, labeled with the address and then prepared for dispatch. Hundreds of iPads, iMacs, iPhones, monitors and accessories are stacked up here. “This space has the security of a bank,” says Bindels. “You can’t just come in or out of here.” It’s a madhouse now just after Black Friday and with the holidays approaching. But with about fifteen people working in the distribution center, it’s manageable. Today, two people from the office also help. “I also sometimes pack here,” laughs Bindels. “Anyone from the office who has some free time helps sort and pack.”

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Back in the office, two large light boxes from old Apple stores catch the eye. Would the largest apple museum in Europe not come to Utrecht? It was to be a collection of more than fifteen thousand objects from a new museum, which was also to be placed in the Wall. Bindel laughs. We are working on that, he says. “A number of volunteers and Amac staff are helping to prepare the exhibition.” When the museum will open, Ed Bindels does not dare to say exactly. “We’re hoping for the second half of 2023, but it’s an awful lot of work.”


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