Dorrin K Mace, Horologost

Dorrin K Mace, Horologost
The Clock Man in a pensive moment

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Time is on Mace's side

The following is an excerpt of an article that ran in the Allied News and Sharon Herald in 2003
Thought you might like to see it again.

By Tina HornerAllied News Community Editor

In 1969, when Dorrin Mace was 6 years old, his grandfather died. As the family sorted through his possessions, they came across an old clock that had been torn apart. Mace wanted to put it back together, but at his young age, he wasn't taken seriously. The clock was sold at auction.
Years later Mace learned that the Ogee clock was quite valuable. He also learned that it had been his mother who, as a child, had torn it apart. What he doesn't know is who now has the clock, which was sold by auctioneer George Ray. "It's an original family piece. It would be nice to have," Mace said.
If it happened to still be in pieces, Mace could certainly fix it now. Ever since he was a child, "I've ripped everything apart that I could get my hands on."
With the ripping apart came an understanding of how things work, particularly clocks.
In addition to learning by doing and reading books on the subject, Mace has studied with the American Watch and Clockmakers Institute and the National Association of Watch and Clockmakers.
For the past 15 years, Mace has been repairing clocks professionally. For 14 of those years, his workshop was his dining room table. A year ago, Mace and his wife, Patty, bought a small building across the road from their home on Grove City-Mercer Road. The building originally was a one-room schoolhouse, then a church. After extensive work, the couple opened Pine Knoll, a clock repair shop which also sells clocks, antiques and vintage items. They operate a greenhouse by the same name.
The store has been busy. Despite reports of a dismal holiday season for retailers, the Maces enjoyed a healthy bottom line. Business has been so good, in fact, that Mace is hoping to leave his full-time job at Wendell August Forge, where he has worked as purchasing manager for seven years.
"My goal is for me to go out the front door (to the clock shop), for my wife to go out the back door (to the greenhouse), and for us to meet in the middle for lunch," Mace said.
It's off-season for the greenhouse, however, and Mace has been so busy that his wife is becoming his apprentice. He spends 50 to 60 hours a week working on clocks, but he's having the time of his life.
Not only does Mace enjoy the work, but also the clientele.
"People expect to see a shriveled, 80-year-old man with a loop on behind the bench," he said. "I do wear the loop; we don't start out old."
He enjoys, too, the variety of timepieces people bring to him. "You think you've seen it all, then someone brings something you've never seen."
Probably the most interesting clock Mace has worked on was an 1840s Ogee clock. He knew it was rare, but when he left the shop one evening, he went home and picked up a trade magazine. In the back he came upon an article about that very clock.
The author wrote that only four of the clocks were ever made, and he thought he had the only one still in existence. He was thrilled to receive a phone call from Mace telling him that a second one was sitting across the road on his workbench.
Another time an elderly woman brought in a pocket watch that she had bought at a yard sale for $2. Mace loved telling the woman that the watch was actually worth several thousand dollars.
Despite gratifying moments like those, the work has its challenges too.
"It's difficult making people understand that I can't fix a clock in two days that has been broken 40 years," Mace said. "I can't just go down to NAPA and get a gear."
Finding the right parts takes time. The Maces have suppliers, but some clocks are so old or rare that parts for them aren't made. Then Mace gets creative and makes the part himself or alters a part to fit the clock he's working on.
His reputation is growing, not only locally, but among some of the most well known clockmakers. The Web sites for Richway, Howard Miller and Sligh -- the three largest clock manufacturers -- list Mace's name as a repairman to whom customers can send their clocks.
With the clock business booming, the Maces are expanding the shop. Beginning later this month, the lower level of the building will be used to house antiques and primitive pieces, and the upper level will be used for Fenton glass, more antiques and tall case (grandfather) clocks.
Come spring, the couple will have a new greenhouse on the shop property, which Patty said will provide a huge expansion on the variety of plants she offers. Rather than shopping at the greenhouse behind their home, customers will make their selections next to the clock shop, then come inside to pay for them.
The Maces, married 20 years, have three children, ages 15, 17 and 19, who give them a hand from time to time. The youngest, a son, thinks (the clock shop) is the best thing in the world, Mace said.
His parents would tend to agree.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.