Today we’d like to introduce you to Bill (William) McIlvaine.
Bill, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
I have been fixing clocks professionally for over 25 years. It seems to be a vocation that followed me through life. When I was in 7th grade, my neighbor decided I should help him fix his anniversary clock. He was a jolly retired mechanical engineer and we had three good weeks of laughs and head scratching before we gave up. After college and a career in advertising, I got some training and bought a yellow pages ad. The rest is pretty much what you might expect – I really enjoy the work and get a sense of accomplishment from it, my customers like having their clocks work correctly and are glad they can find someone who will come to the house and do a good job.
Has it been a smooth road?
There are always unique challenges with every different clock. For one thing, it seems there are endless variations of clock cabinets and ways to put them together – so getting them apart can be interesting. Most clock owners don’t know that they should have their clock cleaned and oiled every 5 years and if they do, they are unsure of how to find a reliable craftsperson to work on their clock. I am fortunate that I have so many good reviews on sites like Angie’s List.
Since I do not have a retail store, I provide on-site service and repairs in the customer’s home. House calls can be a challenge because I have to effectively “bring my workshop with me”. I have developed strategies over time so I can fix 90 to 95% of the clocks at the customer’s home. Occasionally I will have to bring a clock movement back to my home if more extensive repairs are needed.
I really enjoy having the ability to do the job right – not just for my customers, also for my own satisfaction. If it takes a little longer to do a thorough job, I am happy to spend the time and get things ticking!
So, let’s switch gears a bit and go into the Grandfather Clock Repair LLC story. Tell us more about the business.
I fix just about all types of mechanically driven clocks, but I specialize in Grandfather clock repair. While I am working people often share the story of their clock with me. I enjoy talking to my customers and I love it when people want to watch me doing the work. Going to a customer’s home or office to fix a clock is normal for me. I will drive all over to get to a clock and fix it.
I am proud of delivering world class service to my customers, for instance when Harrod’s of London had a clock delivered and requested service, they contacted me. On the other end of the spectrum, I love fixing “kit clocks” – lots of people have a grandfather clock that was made by their father or grandfather. As you can imagine some of these clocks are assembled using non-standard techniques (I swear I have fixed some with rubber bands and paper clips holding them together). My customers and I appreciate them all – especially when they are running well.
In addition to making “Real House Calls” I recently began offering “Virtual House Calls” – when a customer has a relatively simple problem like “the pendulum fell off” I coach them through the fix on a video call. It saves me having to travel and saves my customers money!
How do you think the industry will change over the next decade?
The clock business is a funny thing. What we sell is an antique technology that provides a more elegant and sustainable way of measuring the passage of time. Since clocks were first invented almost a thousand years ago they have indeed stood the test of time and increased in popularity. I think the overall trend will continue.
- Website: www.grandfatherclockrepairllc.com
- Phone: (310)962-7911
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Facebook: Grandfather Clock Repair LLC
- Other: Angie’s List – Grandfather Clock Repair LLC
All photos used with permission