Written by Mark Jaeger
Tuesday, 23 November 2010 17:19
When Matt Bohn was working as a co-op student at Four Seasons Sales and Service, he thought it was just a way to get out of classes at Port Washington High School a couple of hours early every afternoon.
That job training lasted three years, until he graduated from high school in 2001.
Nearly a decade later, Bohn and his wife Christine are the new owners of the outdoor equipment business, albeit with a slightly reworked name, 4 Seasons of Port Washington.
Bohn says he owes it all to Mark Hoeft, who owned the Port Washington garden equipment and service business when he was a youngster.
Today, the tables have turned and Bohn works closely with Hoeft at the shop, which has relocated to 123 N. Park St.
“I wouldn’t pretend to know what the right title would be for Mark. I do know that I learned a lot about repairing engines and running a business from him,” Bohn said. “He was a real mentor to me, and I am still learning things from him every day.”
Hoeft and his father Clarence started the Simplicity sales and service shop more than 40 years ago. It was located on Grand Avenue for 10 years then moved to Moore Road.
After his introduction to the business world from Hoeft, Bohn left Port Washington to study auto detailing and painting at Wyoming Tech in Laramie, Wyo.
For the past six years, he has worked as a shift supervisor at Calibre Inc., a custom detailing plant in Grafton.
Still, Bohn said he had a warm place in his heart for the service shop where he gained his first exposure to the work world.
“When I was a senior in high school, Mark used to kid me about taking over his business,” Bohn said.
“Then, two years ago, I began talking to Mark about running the shop. My wife — who is a bookkeeper at Calibre — and I prepared a business plan and made projections on what kind of sales we would need to keep in business. It was a lot of work, but we managed to secure a business loan and are ready to go.”
The Moore Road location has already bought by Lakeshore Dance Studio, so Bohn settled on the building formerly used by a trucking business on North Park Street which he said is in need of considerable work.
“We want to redo the entire building, putting in new doors and windows, but we can’t do anything with the site until we get the OK from the Department of Natural Resources because of possible contamination in the ground,” Bohn said.
Eventually, Bohn said, he hopes business will be strong enough that the shop will be his full-time source of income.
“That is the goal, but we have to start at the ground level and build from there,” Bohn said.
He said the shop will continue to sell and service Simplicity and Snapper equipment, and may eventually add a line of hand-held tools, such as chainsaws and trimmers.
“Our focus is going to be customer service. I still remember how a lot of the old-timers would come in and ask for Mark. They knew he would always take care of them,” Bohn said.
CHRISTINE AND MATT BOHN are the new owners of 4 Seasons of Port Washington. The garden equipment sales and repair shop was started 40 years ago by Clarence and Mark Hoeft. Photo by Sam Arendt