Lawn mower shop changes hands after decades

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GREENFIELD — As lawn care season ramps up, so too does a new chapter for a businessman taking over a shop that’s fixed mowers for almost 40 years.

Greenfield Outdoor Solutions has opened at 2225 W. Main St., Greenfield, where Randy’s Lawn Mower Repair had operated since 1981. The predecessor and the successor have been fixing outdoor equipment since they were teenagers, and both find the trade’s challenges fulfilling.

New job for Cobb

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Push mowers and riding lawnmowers line Greenfield Outdoor Solutions’ floor. Hedge trimmers, chainsaws, blowers and other equipment cover one of the shop’s walls.

Randy Wells, owner of Randy’s Lawn Mower Repair, sold the property to Steve Cobb and Scott Unison at the beginning of the year.

Greenfield Outdoor Solutions, with its five employees, fixes and sells outdoor power equipment. It joins Cobb and Unison’s two similar stores in Indianapolis.

Cobb said he and Unison were attracted to the Greenfield opportunity because of its location on U.S. 40.

A $2 bill hangs on the wall from Cobb’s first sale in the store. He couldn’t remember what it was for, but he recalled the transaction occurring before he even had his computers running.

Cobb, who studied power mechanics in high school, said he enjoys his line of work.

“It gets me outside,” he said. “I’m turning wrenches, running a store.”

The job is never boring, he continued.

“Not every lawn mower’s the same,” he said. “It might be tuneup after tuneup, but they’re never the same. It’s still getting to go outside and ride around to make sure something runs proper.”

Greenfield will be a different market for him, he said. Neighborhoods near his existing stores have yards spanning a quarter-acre or less, he estimated. In Greenfield, he expects to deal with a lot more riding lawnmowers than he has in the past.

“It’s going to be a learning curve out here,” he added. “Yards are a lot bigger than what I’m used to.”

A Wells-oiled machine

Wells recalled his lawn mowing beginnings in a post on his business’s Facebook page. He wrote about mowing his first lawn at age 9 and tackling as many as eight or nine a day after school and twice that many on weekends and summer breaks by the time he was 12. Young Randy charged $1.50 for regular lawns and $2 for larger ones. He even rigged a couple flashlights on his mower so he could work at night.

Not wanting to spend his hard-earned money on repairs to his mower, he learned to do the fixes himself. Soon, neighbors noticed his budding talent and started bringing over their mowers.

“Soon, I found out that I could make a lot more money fixing mowers than pushing them… and I didn’t get nearly as sunburned,” Wells wrote.

As a teenager, Wells started Randy’s Lawn Mower Repair at the corner of State Road 9 and McKenzie Road. Then he bought out a competitor after about a year or so.

In 1981, he built the property on Main Street. Wells’ wife, Rita, has worked with him for 35 years.

“I was somebody that could pretty much always figure things out,” Wells told the Daily Reporter. “…I just liked to try to figure things out.”

He’s watched the tools of the trade change over the years, particularly as companies grew more concerned with liability and started implementing more safety features on mowers. Engines have also evolved to keep up with changing environmental standards, he said.

But he still has the 1954 mower he started with at age 9, and it still runs.

Looking back on his career, Wells said he ran his company more like an educator than a businessman.

“I was more interested in helping people than making money,” he said.