Once described as a “clock whisperer,” Mark Purdy is passionate about repairing antique timepieces for customers. As founder of Blackstone Manor Clock Repair, Purdy and his team of specialists spend their days fixing and servicing family heirlooms manufactured by old-world brands such as Jaeger-LeCoultre Atmos, Kuempel, Hermle, Seth Thomas, Kieninger, Howard Miller, and Jauch.
As one of our customers at Deluxe, we recently had the chance to catch up with Mark to find out more about owning and operating a clock repair business.
What led you to start your business?
I thought I wanted to be a cop when I was younger, and even got my bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice. But when my brother needed help running his jewelry store in Jamestown, ND, after two of his three employees moved out of town, I decided to join him. My brother repaired watches and jewelry, while I worked with the customers at the front counter. He taught me the basics of clock repair, which helped give me the experience I needed when I moved back to Minneapolis and begged my way in the door of Kuempel Chime Clock Works. I eventually launched my own clock repair business, with Kuempel being one of my main customers.
What is it about the clock business that keeps you intrigued?
I really enjoy seeing history in my hands – touching something that was made 200+ years ago and still able to see the marks made by the person who built it. Some of the repairs made years ago were good and some were bad. We get to correct the bad ones, and try not to leave too much evidence of us being there.
What trends to you see in the clock industry?
Customers still appreciate the fine antiques more than the current production of inferior products. We need to keep up with “old world” skills in order to leave our repair work almost invisible.
Who do you turn to for business advice?
There are a few other watch and clock repair people in town that I’m tight with. There are also national professional organizations I could go to for help, including an international chat group I monitor daily.
How have you embraced social media and other online marketing?
I manage our Facebook Page for the shop, and have been advised to post more. I am surprised at how many people find us – people I don’t know like us and our posts.
What other types of marketing tactic do you currently use to promote your shop?
Thankfully, I’m currently rated the BEST shop on Angie’s List in Minneapolis. I also run ads in the Clip-N-Save periodically, and support local groups and activities like the fire department, Music in the Park, Raspberry Days, Old Fashioned Holidays, etc.
What do you consider a “great day” in your business?
I love how much fun it is, despite how tire you are at the end of the day. We meet so many interesting people who are passionate about their clocks, which makes it even more fun when we overcome bad previous repairs.
What is your least favorite part of running your own small business?
I’d have to say Human Resources. I like to be friends with all my employees. Being the boss is not always pleasant.
What has been your most magical moment as an entrepreneur?
The best part is when a customer really appreciates having their family heirloom running again. They get to hear the same “tick and tock” Great Grandma heard. I often feel like I get to bring ancestors back to life for another generation to enjoy!