---- — Shop Talk is a weekly column featuring locally owned and operated businesses. This week, we talk to David McCarthy Jr. of Maple Grove Repair.
How long have you lived in the area?
I have lived in this area my entire life.
Tell me about your business:
I work on small engine repair _ anything with an engine that is for off-road operation. My days include repair work on anything from lawn mowers, chain saws, snow blowers and trimmers to industrial and agriculture related machinery including bulldozers, skid steers, forklifts and tractors. My business includes repair work at my shop and a large amount of work at the customers home or farm. I have a fully equipped service truck and I will travel anywhere. If I don't have the parts needed for any make or model of machinery, I have the resources to readily find what is needed.
Describe a typical day in your business:
I start each day with a list of what customers are on schedule for that day. If it is a service call, I make sure my truck is loaded up with everything that I need for the type of repair work the customer needs. I usually schedule my on-the-road days to go along a route to save time and see the most customers possible in that day. I start early and try to be finished in 12 hours.
How did you get started in this line of work?
I have always worked on farms. I love the farm atmosphere and I learned how to fix things early on. Anything to do with agriculture is of interest to me. I gained additional experience working for a large business and now I am using all of my skills and background knowledge in my own business.
Describe a memorable moment in your workplace:
I have quite a few but the days that my 2-year-old daughter is "helping" me are all memorable days at my shop.
Where do you see this business in five years?
I plan to be successful and continue to grow. Ideally, I would like to grow to the point of having employees and carrying a manufacturer's line of products. I am planning this already and will soon have equipment for sale, so in five years, I would like to have these products well-established, and have a large customer base.
What have you learned from your work?
I have learned to repair just about everything! I have also learned that most people would prefer to hire an individual to do repair and maintenance work rather than a corporate dealer. You don't need to go to a dealer to get quality work and it is a lot less expensive for customers to have work done by an individual.
What is the most challenging part of what you do?
The most challenging part of what I do is trying to stretch the day out longer. Time management and scheduling is a challenge but my focus is on customer satisfaction, so effective scheduling is a priority.
The most enjoyable?
The single most enjoyable part of what I do would be hard to name but I love working outside and meeting new customers, so that makes it all enjoyable.
How do you define success for your business?
Being able to provide for my family _ that's a successful business.
What are some advantages as well as drawbacks of doing business in this area?
So many farms are shutting down. Farm and agriculture equipment repair is a large part of my work, so when they are closing, it hurts many people and businesses.
But there is still a considerable amount of agriculture going on here, so there is repair work to be done.
What sets you apart from your competitors?
My customers want to deal with an individual and not be treated as a number or line item. The cost of my work sets me apart for dealers in that more work will be done, at their location where they do not have to transport equipment and at a much more reasonable price. This saves customers time and money.
What advice would you give to someone trying to enter your field of work?
My advice, without hesitation, is to be honest with customers _ no BS. I also believe that a person has to set aside time for family _ don't get so caught up in work that you don't have time for them.
Shop Talk interviews are conducted by Terry Hannum. For information, call The Daily Star at 432-1000, ext. 217, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.