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History When is it time for a change?

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by e1956v, Jun 4, 2021.

  1. e1956v
    Joined: Sep 29, 2009
    Posts: 1,738

    Alliance Vendor

    Hey guys, I cleared the idea of this thread with Ryan ahead of time because I didn't want it to come off as spam, although I will admit that it is somewhat self serving. It also brings up things that are going on in the hot rod and automotive industry with small businesses and shops we all grew up with..
    First a little background. I'm the second generation owner of Speedometer and Alternator Service in Colorado Springs Colorado. My dad bought out his boss and acquired the shop Speedometer Service in 1957. In 1959 he hired a 17 year old neighborhood kid Tom Nixon and began training him in speedometer repair. Little did he know that Tom would stay with the shop for 45 years and it would be the only job Tom would ever have. In 1961 he completed the move of the shop to an old corner grocery store that was built in 1900 in downtown Colorado Springs and expanded into the auto electric rebuilding to increase business. My dad Elwood Buster (just call me Buster not Bastard) passed in 1989 at 73 years old and worked a full day that day. This is our 60th anniversary of being on this corner. I started work at the shop in 1982 during my senior year in high school so I'm pushing 40 years here at the shop.
    There is always discussion on the HAMB about the demise of small specialty shops that used to be a staple for hot rodders, brake and clutch shops, radiator shops, engine and machine/speed shops and even auto electric rebuild shops. Times change and we live in a different world today with everything available at our fingertips and just a click away. Now this is not a post meant to cry and complain, just to help explain.
    The internet is a fantastic thing, we are able to meet folks all across the country and the world that our parents never would have dreamed of. I have worked on speedometers from in Australia, New Zeeland and sent a restored 1950 Old's cluster to a guy in England to grace the dash of his 1932 Ford five window all because of the HAMB. My dad would have never imagined that. On the other end of that spectrum it has brought low cost imported parts to everyone with just a click of a button, double edge sword right.
    That brings me to the auto electric side of the business. How many of you guys remember local auto electrical shops in or near your town? Are they still around? It's a rough business to be in, we can't rebuilt anymore cost effectively because new units are available online cheaper than we can rebuild them, by the same suppliers we purchase parts and units from, that are now selling around us online. It's just the reality now. The last bastion we had was the heavy duty and agricultural market and that's gone away now also. Just last week I gave an estimate for a total rebuild on a 1940 Farmall H starter at $100.00, not a patch job but a total rebuild, but was told no, because one could be purchased new online for $105.00.
    It's been frustrating for a long time.
    Where is this going you ask.? Being in a downtown location here in the Springs I have had developers inquiring about selling the shop for a while now and the Colorado Springs real estate market is nuts right now, third hottest market in the country. I have always said no. Until the latest offer hit the table. I looked at what this industry( auto electric rebuilding) was, what it is now and where this industry is headed. My last vacation was in 2010 when I went to see my son graduate Air Force basic training at Lackland AFB in San Antonio.

    I hope my father wont haunt me for this but I'm taking the offer and I'm going to shut down the auto electric side of the business.
    I will still keep repairing Speedometers and that side of the business going, probably out of my garage. That will give me an excuse to visit The Garage Journal site to plan for my home garage make over. The website and phone number will stay the same.
    I really appreciate the friends I have made from the HAMB and the times you guys have dropped by to say hey on your way to The Hot Rod hill Climb, The Dirt Drags, and other events in our area.
    Again Speedometer Service is not going away, just wont be in the little pink building anymore.
    Now I just have to get rid of 64 years worth of stuff to get the building emptied. I have till December 31st to get that done, Lord help me . Anyone want to buy some parts? :(:confused::eek:
    Check out my album on my HAMB profile for more pic's of cars that have passed through the shop.
    Thanks guys and gals,
    Elwood (Rusty) Buster II
    old photo.jpg pops2.JPG IMG_1129.jpg ppih0452.jpg 20170524_123028 - Copy (2).jpg 20170524_122940.jpg 20170524_123538.jpg 20170524_122745 - Copy.jpg cores1.jpg IMG-1028.jpg
    crash.jpg shoe box.jpg Untitled%20-%203.jpg IMG-1029.jpg
    Last edited: Jun 4, 2021
    Blues4U, clem, zggum and 62 others like this.
    Joined: Sep 5, 2007
    Posts: 1,910


    I salute you for holding out against the steamroller of "progress" as long as you have, Rusty. I wish the best for you in your future endeavors.
  3. TrailerTrashToo
    Joined: Jun 20, 2018
    Posts: 1,013


    You have earned your semi-retirement. You worked for 40 years and it is time to enjoy other things in life.
    If you include the original owner, 3 continuous generations of operation, the massive cleanout will be a challenge. The shovel in the above picture will get a lot of use;).

    Our local go-to electrical shop got out of the rebuilding side of the business about 15 years ago - "I make more money doing repairs".

    clem, Joe Blow, juan motime and 3 others like this.
  4. GordonC
    Joined: Mar 6, 2006
    Posts: 2,408


    Rusty I wish nothing but the best for you! Your a stand up guy.

  5. edcodesign
    Joined: Mar 30, 2007
    Posts: 4,166


    Wise decision , good luck to you.
  6. The alternator / starter rebuild shop just took down his sign about a month ago here in Brantford !!!
    VANDENPLAS and hotrodjack33 like this.
  7. It's heartbreaking to hear stories like yours, Rusty, but I completely understand. Yes, there comes a time for everything, sadly. Best wishes and good fortune going forward..............Don.
    Blues4U, alanp561, Joe Blow and 7 others like this.
  8. williebill
    Joined: Mar 1, 2004
    Posts: 2,785


    Good luck to you, and just may call on you in the future. I know about the non vacations, and the overall pressures, but in a different business I've been in since '76. I'll face this sometime in the (near) future, but not yet. I wish you the best. I know it's not an easy decision when your identity is so connected to your business, whether you ever intended it to be that way, or not.
    e1956v likes this.
  9. Rusty, I have been in your shoes, My dad started a independent business selling paint/wallpaper & carpet and later on adding a picture framing shop next door.

    H did all this in 1957 before the advent of huge discount box stores that were open 7 days a week and business was great, I took over in 1985 and like you I experienced competition that were buying the same products as I and where I purchased a truck load they were buy by the tractor trailer load and some items were being sold cheaper than I was paying.

    In 2004, I was made a offer for my building and property in downtown Anderson that was a too good to pass, It was a nightmare with only 30 days to liquidate but I got the family and friends to help and made the deadline.

    I haven't looked back, it was a hard decision but the best move I could have made.

    Good luck Rusty. HRP
    The37Kid, Blues4U, clem and 11 others like this.
  10. 19Fordy
    Joined: May 17, 2003
    Posts: 7,230


    I wish you all the very best. There must be thousands of small mom and pop shops
    across the USA trying to hang on . It's tough going.
    hotrodjack33, williebill and e1956v like this.
  11. 2935ford
    Joined: Jan 6, 2006
    Posts: 3,635


    I hate to see the cool old shop go........but reality sets in......
    egads and e1956v like this.
  12. trollst
    Joined: Jan 27, 2012
    Posts: 2,057


    Well, it's many of you follow your finger, push the right button and have it shipped to your door?
    Not me.
    I asked a few days ago on here about a power brake booster I couldn't identify, my friend squirrel came through for me, and turns out, Rock Auto has it, so far.....I got the part numbers, ran down to my local auto parts store here in the middle of nowhere, gave them the info, they ordered it and cautioned me that they had to have their slice of the pie too, to which I heartily agreed. It will be more expensive than if I ordered it myself, BUT, they have staff to pay, been in business 80 or so years, when I need a hoomerhingie, they have it, so I explained to my friend Luke (parts guy), that he needs the job, the local junior hockey and baseball teams need the sponsorship, and I need them to still be in business this time next year. I'm paying more, but the investment is worth it. Think about that.
    Good luck Rusty, enjoy retirement.
    The37Kid, RICH B, The 39 guy and 26 others like this.
  13. e1956v
    Joined: Sep 29, 2009
    Posts: 1,738

    Alliance Vendor

    B7FCB6B3-D501-4A2C-9CF5-DFFBA559E890.jpeg I just broke down and had the sign on the building repainted last fall by a traveling artist that pays his way across the country for art festivals by doing sign painting, out of a old watermelon farm truck he converted to a motor home. Thanks for all the support and kind words.
    CD8F174E-6214-4D62-A5B7-14479B650546.jpeg CB85F3BE-671D-4E4F-A708-85D85A2D55A5.jpeg 62814DCF-B0E5-41C5-9AED-0A2E0AC35BA3.jpeg View attachment 5080975
    View attachment 5080975
    Last edited: Jun 4, 2021
  14. e1956v
    Joined: Sep 29, 2009
    Posts: 1,738

    Alliance Vendor

    Danny, sounds like we are in the same boat. They originally wanted me out in 30 days. I said all you have to do is come inside my shop and let me take you down in the basement to see that's not gonna happen. I held firm and was given to the end of the year. Thank goodness.
    RICH B, Blues4U, alanp561 and 4 others like this.
  15. squirrel
    Joined: Sep 23, 2004
    Posts: 49,291


    Sounds like you're doing the right thing, unfortunately.

    But the sight of all those starters and generators, and know that one more guy who knows how to deal with them, going away, hurts...

    Best wishes for your new smaller shop.
    Baumi, Joe Blow, VANDENPLAS and 6 others like this.
  16. DDDenny
    Joined: Feb 6, 2015
    Posts: 15,072

    from oregon

    I've been hearing about the hot Colorado property market for some time, then about two months ago my wifes' sister who is renting a house in Golden told us her landlord is asking a million bucks for the house they just finished next door and I told her you better start looking for a new place and she said yep, the writing is on the wall.
    Good luck to you in your new digs.
    e1956v likes this.
  17. Corn Fed
    Joined: May 16, 2002
    Posts: 2,991

    Corn Fed

    Sad to hear that your shop will be closing, but at least you are getting out with a nice offer on the land instead of just closing the doors. I haven't had a close by auto electric place for 10-15 years. Sure the new stuff you can buy is cheap, but it isn't as good as a rebuilt old unit. I just bought an all new name brand SBC starter that I couldn't get to line up even with shims. I threw a crusty 40 year old OEM on there and it fit without any issues.
    Please keep the speedo business going as long as you can, even if it is just a hobby. Classic gauges are one thing that can't be bought new.
    low down A, tractorguy and e1956v like this.
  18. Lloyd's paint & glass
    Joined: Nov 16, 2019
    Posts: 4,879

    Lloyd's paint & glass

    Still have Terry's starter service here, but he's getting older. The other 2 retired. Skilled labor is becoming a thing of the past. I still take my stuff to Terry, doesn't cost much and i trust it more than the other crap out there. I always take him 10si alternators, give him a couple of cores and he'll fix one for me in trade. Great guy. I'm sure there's gonna be a lot of guys miss you being there.
  19. Squablow
    Joined: Apr 26, 2005
    Posts: 15,130


    I don't blame you if the money is right, but I'm curious to know is the building going to stay, or is it being torn down? And if it is being torn down, do you get any salvage rights to it? Looks like a cool old building with a lot of neat stuff that could be picked off if it's going to get demolished anyway. My shop is from the same era and I'd hate to see the whole thing go to waste.
    VANDENPLAS, SR100 and tractorguy like this.
  20. e1956v
    Joined: Sep 29, 2009
    Posts: 1,738

    Alliance Vendor

    They said no immediate plans.....but they also purchased the house next to me and three duplex units behind me. That gives them almost a quarter of the city block so color me skeptical. My bet is its all going to be torn down. I had a local restaurant owner interested last year who purchased a similar corner grocery store 5 blocks away and converted it to an Italian restaurant but then COVID hit and he had to hold off on his plans to do the same with this shop.
    I promised to let him know if I had any offers so he could counter but COVID stretched him to thin to to do anything right now. He looked sick to his stomach when he came over to tell me hen had to pass.
    I don't want to see it torn down but its out of my hands, I've held on for a long time. No real salvage rights on the building according to the contract, just shop owned stuff.
    AHotRod and tractorguy like this.
  21. For every thing there is a season.
    I hate to hear stories like yours. Our society is constantly changing for the worse in my opinion.
    But, other than having to deal with liquidation of your decades of inventory, you probably did well to get out at the right time.
    I also wish you the best of luck for the future. Perhaps when we are all driving electric powered vehicles the auto electric shops will have a renaissance.☺
  22. Sorry to hear this; but can't blame you a bit. If only the new stuff was equal in quality to the "old" rebuilt units... I've been down that road.
    Enjoy the semi-retirement!
    e1956v likes this.
  23. CAHotRodBoy
    Joined: Apr 22, 2005
    Posts: 403


    Sorry about the current state of the industry but other than that, what a cool story of you and your dad's business. And what a cool name you have too!
    I was just in Arvada visiting family last week. Wish I had known about your place as I would have stopped by just to soak in all the history.
    Too bad you have to leave such a cool old building. I'm sure it will get turned into some hipster coffee shop or boutique.
    e1956v likes this.
  24. twenty8
    Joined: Apr 8, 2021
    Posts: 305


    Unfortunately, you are making the right decision.............:(
    All the best.
    VANDENPLAS and e1956v like this.
  25. Guy Patterson
    Joined: Nov 27, 2020
    Posts: 195

    Guy Patterson

    Yup bought my new house in Colorado 3 years ago and now valued over 1.5 millon just crazy
    VANDENPLAS and e1956v like this.
  26. AHotRod
    Joined: Jul 27, 2001
    Posts: 11,405


    God Bless your family Rusty, I'm sad and happy for you.

    We still have a alternator/starter shop about 20 miles from me, but I don't know how he hangs on.
    I just took a old Walker radiator out of a customers 46 Ford today to our only radiator shop 22 miles away for repairs, and I know that the day is coming that he will no longer be open.
    It saddens me to see what's happening nation wide.
    Joe Blow and e1956v like this.
  27. Squablow
    Joined: Apr 26, 2005
    Posts: 15,130


    A coffee shop/microbrewery/restaurant/hipster boutique would actually be really great to see because those places generally will utilize the best aspects of a cool old building like that. Would be a much better fate than seeing everything on the block leveled for some apartment complex.

    Scrap metal is very high right now, higher than it's ever been in years, which might be a great help if some of those starter and alternator cores can't find a home. That coupled with the real estate market makes the timing pretty advantageous.

    You gotta do what you gotta do. It's nice that the speedometer service will still continue forward, and that the old shop is closing up with a big payday instead of the way a lot of old shops close up.

    Fingers crossed for a good outcome for the building.
  28. BamaMav
    Joined: Jun 19, 2011
    Posts: 4,979

    from Berry, AL

    I hate to see another family owned business with a history like yours close, but it's happening more and more each year. Just like the brass era cars fell out of popularity and parts sources dried up, our period cars are starting to feel the same thing happening. When was the last car to use a generator, around 1964? That was 57 years ago if my math is right....the demand will only get smaller with time. We lost our alternator and starter shop a few years ago, he told me I could buy new cheaper than he could rebuild them anymore. Our radiator shop closed up when the guy retired and no one in the family wanted to take it over, just wasn't any profit in it any longer. Imported replacements were cheaper to buy. The hot thing now is the muscle cars, I think parts will still be there for them for a few more years until the younger generations age enough that they all look at them like our cars --relics from the past. Who would have ever figured Lebaron-Bonney would go belly up? No one in our age group for sure.

    Sadly, the only thing certain is change. Times change, people change. We have to adapt as much as we hate it. I hate change.

    Good luck on moving out, and good luck with keeping the speedo shop open, even if you only do it part time. Our hobby isn't dead yet, and we need guys like you to help keep it going a while longer!
  29. good luck.....time for a cool change...
    Joe Blow, jim snow and e1956v like this.
  30. Mr48chev
    Joined: Dec 28, 2007
    Posts: 29,584


    I hate to see the Starter/generator/alternator rebuild side go away but when it isn't financially feasible to keep that side going can understand.
    My go to for a lot of years auto electric shop closed a bit over a year ago. He is a quiet member on here and I had suggested sending stuff to rebuilt by his shop more than once. The shop was busy but he didn't have anyone capable to turn it over to and is well pass retirement age and couldn't find a buyer.
    I don't think there is another rebuild shop within 60 miles in any direction now as the other auto electric shop in town is way more replace than repair.
    After all that maybe we can send you enough speedometer work to take up some of the slack or keep you as busy as you want to be.

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