Florencio and Mary Zuviri’s story begins in Tampico, Mexico. In 1985, Florencio went to work in his brother’s camera shop, and his brother taught him how to repair the cameras customers brought to them.
“My father was an electrician,” Florencio said. “So it was innate in us. We started with mechanical cameras.” After one year, Florencio and Mary set up their own camera repair shop in Tampico.
Things were going well for them, professionally, but their oldest daughter (also named Mary) had troubling health issues. Severe allergies plagued her, and she often battled bronchitis. Doctors told the Zuviris they needed to move away from Tampico because of the heavy pollution there.
“We wondered, where do you go to start over with your business?” Mary said.
Then Florencio received a job offer from a business in McAllen that sold camera parts. The family had visited McAllen for vacation, and they immediately noticed that little Mary had no trouble with her allergies. In Tampico, if she ate ice cream, she would get sick. If she ran, she would get sick.
Florencio accepted the position and moved to McAllen. Mary stayed in Tampico with their three daughters for six months before joining Florencio. When they moved to McAllen, little Mary was in fourth grade, middle daughter Barbara was in first grade, and baby daughter Flor was three years old. As soon as Mary started school, she ran in P.E. with her classmates without struggling to breathe or becoming ill. Life was good.
It didn’t take long for Florencia and Mary to open their own camera repair shop in McAllen.
“We named it Vital Camera Repair,” Mary said. “Because if you have a camera, it is vital for it to work.”
For 15 years, Vital Camera Repair was located on 10th and Business 83. Then it moved to 10th and Harvey, where it remained for 10 years. April 13, they officially moved into the Arts District Business Center on the northwest corner of Main and Harvey. The Business Center houses a number of local businesses, among them a Realtor®, a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC), a construction and roofing company, and a photographer. The Zuviris chose this location to cut down on overhead costs so they could continue to offer excellent service at an excellent price.
Over the years, their business has flourished, and Mary is particularly proud of their advertising. Other than Facebook, which she runs with the help of their daughters, all of their advertising has been through word of mouth.
“We like to have a happy customer, a satisfied customer,” Mary said. And those happy customers tell other people, and they tell other people, and…
Mary and her husband are also proud of being the only business in the Rio Grande Valley that does the type of work they do. Not only do they repair any brand of camera, from older, film cameras to advanced digital models, but they also repair camcorders and lighting equipment. They sell all types of photographic equipment, and Vital Camera Repair is an authorized Novatron dealer, selling specialized lighting and studio equipment.
People may not realize Vital Camera Repair also converts 8mm, super 8 mm, and 16 mm reels, slides, photographs, and VHS and Beta tapes into DVDs.
Over their 25 years in business, the memories of their customers are like a scrapbook for Florencio and Mary. One customer came to see them with 8mm reel. She wanted the Zuviris to convert the reels onto a DVD for her son, who was serving in the military, for his birthday. The Zuviris spent a great deal of time creating the DVD, knowing how important it was to this serviceman’s mother.
“We always do these like they are for us,” Mary said.
Their customer picked up the DVD. Then one day, they got an unexpected visit. It was the customer’s son, who was now home. He went to Vital Camera Repair to thank them for the treasured DVD.
Turn another page of the shop’s memory scrapbook, and you would find a customer who brought his 47-year-old camera in for repair, hanging on by a thread to any hope of actually having the camera restored. Florencio made it happen.
And yet another page would reveal a customer who bought a used Nikon camera online, only to discover that it didn’t work. He called Nikon and was told they would not repair it. He had taken other cameras and lenses to Vital for repair, and although he was afraid it couldn’t be fixed, he took this one to them, too. Once again, Florencio worked his magic and repaired the camera.
“I LOVE my job,” Florencio said. One of the things he likes most about his job is that it’s never monotonous. Every day, every piece of equipment that comes into the shop provides him with a new test of his skills. “The challenges are exciting, and it’s my reward when I fix something.” Florencio has not had much of a learning curve over the years, despite camera equipment going from film models to digital models.
“The principle is the same, he always tells me,” Mary said. “The shutter has to do something, and the lens has to do something. He always says, ‘It’s logical!’”
The Zuviris have served customers from Canada, Chicago, Florida, and throughout the U.S. and Mexico. Their memory scrapbook contains the faces of countless Winter Texans who bring their camera equipment in for repair during their stay in the Valley. Florencio and Mary also have customers they have never met in person, people who have heard about them and who send their equipment in for repair and have it sent back to them for free, a service the Zuviris provide to customers across the United States.
Florencio and Mary recognize the blessings that have surrounded them over the years.
“God has been with us all the time,” Mary said, “We taught our daughters, ‘Don’t say you can’t do things. You CAN! You need to be honest, and you need to accept your challenges.”
Their daughters were the perfect students for their parents’ lessons. Daughter Mary is an elementary school teacher, Barbara is a registered nurse, and Flor is a physician’s assistant. Along the way, they have undoubtedly learned countless lessons about love and marriage from their parents, who have been married for 36 years. “He is calm and I am high-energy,” Mary said. “Sometimes he needs a push, and I need a pull.”
And they’ve learned about hard work and its rewards, too.
“We started with a dream,” Mary said, “and here we are, 25-plus years later. Our job has provided an education for our daughters, and we are proud of that. And we receive so much gratitude from our customers.”
Vital Camera Repair is located at 801 N. Main Street, Suite 310. They are open Monday through Friday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Their telephone number is 956-687-4558. You can also find them on Facebook.