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Gillespie Small Engine
On the edge of Hartford is a small business that sells and works on power equipment. Gillespie Small Engine is like many other small businesses… long hours and dedication to customer service. Owner Justin Gillespie grew up around the farm near Parker. He later attended North Dakota State College of Science and received an Associate degree in Recreational Engine Technology. In the summer, he would move back to the area to help on the family farm and repair friends and neighbor’s lawn mowers and equipment. Apparently he was pretty good at it because he got so busy he had to turn people away. “It finally dawned on me that the farm is not where I needed to be, so I went out on a limb and started Gillespie Small Engine in an oversized storage unit south of Hartford,” recalls Gillespie. Chris Keipers, Suwa Otten, Justin’s dad Tom, along with Jerry Siemonsma complete the Gillespie team. Justin and Chris handle the sales, service and parts while Tom and Jerry do the setup and delivery, and Suwa handles the bookkeeping chores.
Having grown up on a farm, Justin has been around machinery all his life. “My first memorable experience with engines was with an old 70’s Mercury 440 max snowmobile. When, of course, it wouldn’t run and my dad said if you want to ride it, get it running yourself.” Justin recalls his father saying to him, “you’ve got to learn somehow.” I don’t think he realized what he was starting. About 10 snowmobiles, and countless cars,trucks and motorcycles later, here I am today.” Justin has been in the small engine repair business for 12+ years and has owned Gillespie Small Engine Repair for a year and a half. “I started out working for a local power sports dealer for a few years, and then had the opportunity to move to Colorado to work as a lead tech for a snowmobile company where we maintained a fleet of 125 snowmobiles for six winters. Our company’s focus is on small engine repair of power equipment. We do not work on motorcycles or snowmobiles, but we are darn good at fixing your lawn mower, snow blower, or any other piece of power equipment.” Gillespie started the business in January of 2009. “Things were pretty tight the first few months so we were able to keep the place real clean,” according to Gillespie. “However, we had a strong advertising plan in place and we could start to see things turn around in April. By then, we were so busy we did not know which way to turn.” They rapidly outgrew that location and moved into their current location on the west edge of Hartford (one mile north of I-90 exit 387 in the Key Auto Sales building).
Gillespie services all makes and models of lawn & garden, construction, winter equipment and chain saws. They also are a Hustler Turf Equipment, Bad Boy Mower and Dolmar Power Products dealer. Hustler is the oldest zero turn mower company in the world with the best warranties in the business. “Their reputation and product quality makes our job pretty simple.” Bad Boy mowers is the fastest growing commercial mower company in the United States. “Wow what a mower! I kind of think of the mowers we sell as the ol’ reliable and the underdog.” As for Dolmar power products, they are German built professional cutting tools, such as chainsaws, trimmers, power cutters and blowers.” When asked what sets their power equipment brands apart from the more well-known brands, Gillespie answered quickly, “Simplicity, reputation, and warranty. Our brands cannot be beat when it comes to these three qualities. When a company like Hustler has a fouryear bumper to bumper warranty, it must be good. All of the mowers we sell have a solid steel welded deck, not a stamped deck like most of our competitors.”
Gillespie offers parts and service for all makes and models of outdoor power equipment. They have over 3,000 items in their parts department. If they do not have the part you need, they can have it delivered within 24-48 hours. Gillespie recommends servicing your equipment once a year or every 25-50 hours depending on running conditions. “An oil change, air filter replacement and a little grease will go a long way to keep your equipment running for years to come,” says Gillespie.
“We realize there are many options when it comes to the service of your power equipment. We feel we are unique compared to other dealers and our marketing slogan says it all, ‘Where service comes first!’ Some dealers only service what they sell or there is no service at all. At Gillespie Small Engine, we offer parts and service for all makes and models. We are also an area factory authorized Honda, Kawasaki, Kohler, Briggs & Stratton, MTD and Hydro-gear service center.” Small town friendly service has been the key to their success. They offer free pickup and delivery for Hartford residents and charge a small fee for all Sioux Falls and surrounding area customers.
Gillespie has plans to continue to expand. They are planning to expand into the boat winterization business in the near future.
“The current lawn mower sales trend of the industry has been zero turn mowers, most of our customers have owned the “box store machines” and are buying more for quality, reliability, and service rather than price. Service is more important today than ever due the poor quality fuels we are forced to buy at the pump. Most of the issues we see are related to ethanol and old fuel. We recommend adding fuel stabilizer to your fuel not just in the off season but year around to keep your equipment fuel fresh.”
Gillespie and his staff are dedicated to their customers and the service of their equipment. They are open Monday through Friday 9AM-6PM and Saturday 9AM-2PM. You can call them at (605) 528-3345 or view their inventory and contact them at www. gillespiesmallengine.com.