Pat’s Service shifts seamlessly as tasks of winter give way to spring
You can call Saukville’s Pat Galvin a “man for all seasons.”
As the owner and sole operator of Pat’s Service, Galvin is just as busy when the promise of spring fills the air as he is when snow clouds loom heavy on the horizon.
He specializes in repairing and servicing small engines, which in Wisconsin translates into working on snowblowers and lawn mowers.
“I work on repair jobs Mondays through Thursdays, and cut lawns on Fridays and Saturdays,” the 55-year-old Galvin said.
Of course, Mother Nature has the final say on when he has to plow snow.
Still, it is a routine Galvin has been following for some 25 years and it gives him the kind of workplace freedom he would never give up.
“When you like what you are doing you never mind going to work,” he said.
The process of going to work is fairly direct for Galvin, who simply walks out the back door of his home at 384 S. Main St. and heads over to his garage.
“When the sun’s out and the weather’s nice, I leave the overhead door open and just get busy,” he said.
Galvin’s garage is filled with a collection of old garden equipment, along with a large work bench and an assortment of tool boxes. Belts, hoses and gaskets cover most of the walls and rafters.
One essential piece of equipment separates Galvin’s workshop from the typical residential garage — a powerful, ceiling-mounted heater.
“When it is cold outside and the snow is flying, I crank the heater up and it keeps things pretty toasty,” he said.
Although there is still a winter chill in the air, it is April and Galvin said his customers have already started thinking about getting their mowers and lawn tractors ready for the grass-growing season.
“My plowing contracts expired on March 31, and the plow is off the truck. I am done with snow,” he said.
Another sign that the seasons are changing is the line of refurbished equipment Galvin stations along his driveway on nice weekends.
He points to various pieces of equipment he picked up from scrap heaps or at yard sales — mostly mowers and tillers — that “run like champs now” after a few simple adjustments.
“People are always looking for reliable, used equipment they can use at a rental property or at their cottage,” Galvin said.
Some of the older equipment, he said, is built to last longer than newer items.
“Some of the new junk, it does not pay to repair it,” Galvin said.
Just as mowers need to be “winterized” at the end of the grass season, he said, snow blowers and throwers need to be prepared for their — hopefully — long wait in the corner of the garage.
“That means removing all of the gas and making sure everything is properly lubricated. Then they should be all ready when the snow returns,” Galvin said.
As for getting lawn equipment ready for the warmer days ahead, tune ups should include such things as checking belts and spark plugs.
A complete tune up of a mower tractor usually costs $150 to $200. That cost includes picking up and dropping off equipment when the work is done, if that is what the customer wants.
“I don’t like to have people’s equipment sitting around. Unless I need to order a special part, I like to have things in and out in one day,” Galvin said.
His fascination with all things mechanical started while watching his father Gerald work on cars when he was “very young.”
Galvin added to his knowledge by attending service schools put on by major equipment manufacturers such as Simplicity, Tecumseh, Toro and John Deere.
When know-how fails, he has found sometimes a little verbal encouragement does the trick, even if it can be a bit salty.
“Sometimes I have to break out my ‘mechanics vocabulary,’ but I have to be careful not to use that kind of language when customers are around,” Galvin said.
Although he is in the repair business, Galvin said he often gives do-it-yourself advice to customers attempting to tackle a project on their own.
“If you don’t know what you are doing, you can end up doing a lot of damage to your equipment,” he said.
Galvin said running an at-home repair shop in a small town has given him the opportunity to meet just about everyone who lives in Saukville.
That includes longtime customers who often just drop by to chat and those who are attracted by the display of used equipment in his yard.
“People just call me the lawn mower guy,” he said.
Galvin also has an alter-ego. He is known for performing a convincing Elvis impersonation.
“I have the outfits and everything,” he said.
However, neighbors are not likely to hear him crooning as “The King” while adjusting the carburetor on a garden tractor.
“I keep those two things separate,” Galvin said. “I need to concentrate when I am making repairs.”
PAT GALVIN ALWAYS finds plenty of work at his small-engine repair shop in Saukville, regardless of the season. Pat’s Service has no sign announcing its location on South Main Street, but once the weather turns nice, pieces of refurbished garden equipment line Galvin’s driveway. Photos by Mark Jaeger