Tuesday, January 23, 2018
Business

A mower? A blower? Need a repair? Weeki Wachee shop likely has the part

WEEKI WACHEE — Robert Haser has never met a two-stroke engine he couldn't fix.

"How do I say this modestly?" the certified master technician muses. "I've been in business so long I can look at it, yank on it a couple of times, tell you what's wrong, the name of the part to fix it and its (order) number."

At 45, the owner of Gulf Coast Mower & Small Engine Repair has dabbled with engine repairs since he was 10 years old and started racing go-karts with his dad.

"We couldn't afford a pit crew, so we were it," he said.

Haser, with part-time assistance from fiancee, Tammy, a certified nursing assistant in her professional career, has operated his business full time for just more than two years, although he counts 20 years of working experience in the field for others. He prefers being his own boss, settling at his own whim for a cigarette on a somewhat battered stool among his garage full of loosely organized "junk."

Haser can't count the number of parts and pieces lying about. But finding just the part he needs? "When something comes in, I file it away in my brain. That's just a knack I have."

A frustrated customer appeared recently, saying on this, his fifth stop in search of a repair, if Haser couldn't fix it, his lawn blower was history. A cursory look at the machine, and Haser named the part and unerringly picked it from his so-called inventory of leftovers.

The motor manipulator explained: "A lot of the guys (the big shops) are hiring, they're parts changers. They have to have a book to look up a number and go to a computer to look up the part. Lots of parts are interchangeable. Others don't know this."

For instance, a Briggs part can supplant a Husqvarna part and that, a Kohler part.

Haser has earned master technician certification from the three major small-engine manufacturers, updated through studies and testing every three years.

"You have to keep on top of stuff," he said, though he maintained it's no big deal. "The basic motor's been the same for 30 years."

After a pause, he admitted: "But then, fuel injection — that's a whole other thing."

He explained what deflates many a customer: the need for and high cost of many repairs.

"China has flooded the market with engines," he said. "They're not quality parts, unless you buy high-end. The engines fail. The average person doesn't know how to repair a two-stroke engine. They're complicated."

Most of the shop's business is repairs of lawn equipment — mowers from push to riding, blowers, weed whackers, hedge trimmers. He also reigns over an assortment of parts for outboard boat motors, trailers and hydraulics and all two-strokes.

If Haser doesn't have a part, he can order and have it the next day out of Jacksonville.

Customers often wave off their unrepairables, saying, "Keep them for parts."

Near his work area, old weed whackers are stacked like cordwood. Out back, vines grow over dead blowers.

On a recent morning, MaryAnn and Frank Henry, volunteers with Project Looking Ahead, a Hernando High School effort for special-needs 18- to 22-year-olds learning life skills, arrived at the shop. They were looking for old motors and carburetors for a mechanics class.

Haser and his only full-time employee, Bill Johnson, 49, a former auto mechanic, loaded up the Henrys' SUV.

As the happy couple departed, Haser called out: "If you need more junk, let me know."

Then he turned back to his wife as she peered through an engine and declared: "This needs a pin."

Haser knew right where to find it.

Beth Gray can be contacted at [email protected]

Comments
Chase to make $20B investment, raise wages

Chase to make $20B investment, raise wages

JPMorgan Chase announced Tuesday that it will boost wages, open new branches and hire thousands of new workers, citing improved economic performance and sweeping changes to the U.S. tax code. Wages will rise to between $15 and $18 an hour from a rang...
Updated: 19 minutes ago
Disney offering staff $1,000 bonuses, new education funding

Disney offering staff $1,000 bonuses, new education funding

NEW YORK — The Walt Disney Co. will give more than 125,000 eligible employees a one-time $1,000 cash bonus and invest $50 million in an education funding program. The media company said Tuesday the bonuses will go to all full and part-time non-execut...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Tampa micro housing advocates find big demand for living small

Tampa micro housing advocates find big demand for living small

TAMPA — When Omar Garcia announced plans to transform a vacant downtown office building into 120 micro apartments of about 300 square feet each, the calls and checks poured in."We got 90 reservations like that," Garcia said Tuesday, snapping his fing...
Updated: 2 hours ago
CEO Nancy Tower’s goal for Tampa Electric: renewable energy

CEO Nancy Tower’s goal for Tampa Electric: renewable energy

TAMPA — Tampa Electric Co.’s future will be green if new CEO Nancy Tower has anything to say about it. Speaking at a panel Tuesday, Tower outlined her vision for pushing the Tampa-based utility toward renewable energy."One of the biggest things we’re...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Elon Musk’s new pay package tied to massive Tesla growth

Elon Musk’s new pay package tied to massive Tesla growth

Associated PressPALO ALTO, Calif.— Elon Musk will remain at Tesla Inc. under a 10-year, all-or-nothing pay package that demands massive growth. The agreement, revealed Tuesday in a regulatory filing, requires that Tesla grow in $50 billion leaps, to ...
Updated: 5 hours ago

Verizon misses its profit forecast

Associated PressNEW YORK — Verizon Communications Inc. on Tuesday reported fourth-quarter earnings of $18.67 billion.On a per-share basis, the New York-based company said it had profits of $4.56. Earnings, adjusted for one-time gains and costs, were ...
Updated: 6 hours ago
Hungry at Gasparilla? Eight great restaurants near the parade route

Hungry at Gasparilla? Eight great restaurants near the parade route

GASPARILLA: THE DINING EDITIONGasparilla. Some things are certain. There will be scantily clad pirates and liquid libations. At some point, it is advised to eat some food. Here are some of the top places that are easily accessed along the invasion ro...
Published: 01/23/18

Hernando Business Digest for Jan. 26

Business digestBrieflySMALL BUSINESS BRIDGE LOANS HELP HERNANDO: The Florida Small Business Development Center at the University of South Florida facilitated 141 Florida Emergency Bridge Loans, totalling $7,515,100 in funding. In Hernando County, eig...
Published: 01/23/18
Sheriff Bob Gualtieri severs contract with CareerSource Pinellas

Sheriff Bob Gualtieri severs contract with CareerSource Pinellas

Pinellas Sheriff Bob Gualtieri severed his agency’s contract with CareerSource Pinellas on Monday after learning that the jobs center told the state it helped 624 sheriff’s employees get hired since 2014.The sheriff said he has no record of CareerSou...
Published: 01/22/18
Water Street Tampa sketches vision for Marriott Waterside (with video)

Water Street Tampa sketches vision for Marriott Waterside (with video)

TAMPA — Water Street Tampa developers outlined some broad goals for their planned $40 million renovation of the Tampa Marriott Waterside Hotel & Marina in a video posted to social media on Monday.In short, they want a hotel that feels inclusive, not ...
Published: 01/22/18