ALPENA - Graham's Motor Rebuilding in Alpena has been a staple for super-charging and repairing customer's engines for decades, but last week the long-time family-owned business closed its doors.
Tucked away conveniently on Washington Avenue, the garage specialized in motor repairs and did work for race car drivers and corporations from around the state.
Owner Frank Graham worked as a teen in the garage and took over the business in 1965 from his father. He said in the shop's early days it did all types of vehicle repair, but later began to focus just on engine work only. Graham said he grew up in the shop, as did his children, but now it is time to step away from it.
"My wife seems to have a lot of plans for me. I'm going to clean out the shop and eventually start eliminating tools and equipment and hopefully this will be used as a regular garage," Graham said. "To be honest I really hate to quit, but it is time.
"Books will tell you there are 16 ounces in a pound, but as I got older it became 24 ounces and the last couple year it has gone up to 32 ounces. Everything got a lot heavier. It's just time."
Graham said the industry has changed a lot from when he helped his father on the customer's vehicles. He said he appreciates the support the people of Alpena have given him and his family over the years.
"The people in Alpena mean everything. I was supported by local people all the time," Graham said. "I did draw a lot of people into Alpena as well from people who wanted to have me do work."
The shop was a daily stop for some of the friends and customers. Graham said on most days the shop would have visitors who would drop in during the morning to share coffee and stories.
"We have a regular crew that hang out here. There is one guy who has been coming here for 32 years," Graham said. "I have had free coffee now for the last 35 years. I had one stop by the other day from Lewiston and he was wondering what he is going to do. I told him the doors were going to be closed and he told me he'll just knock on the door of the house."
Graham offered some advice to people who are thinking about opening an engine repair shop. He said be prepared to work a lot of hours and to make a large investment that will take many years to earn back.
Steve Schulwitz can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 358-5689. Follow Steve on Twitter ss_alpenanews. Read his blog, Upon Further Review ... at www.thealpenanews.com.