Keeping time is couple's business
Q & A with Matt and Tracy Hein, owners of Prescott Trade Shop at 8690 E. Highway 69, Prescott Valley. The store is open from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays through Fridays, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturdays, and by appointment. 778-5814; www.prescotttradeshop.com.
How did you get into this business?
Matt: "In 1988, while working at a Prescott Jewelry store, I met Hugh McGaugh, an older jeweler and hand-engraver who had his own business in Prescott Valley. We became friends and, while talking with him and learning about engraving, he recommended that I pursue watch repair as well.
"There were several active and retired watchmakers in the area at that time and they took great interest in my wanting to learn the profession. With an art and jewelry background, I really enjoyed the challenge and, after a year of apprenticing, I began fixing watches for Hugh and then began doing trade work for other local jewelers. I would pick up work, take it home and return it to the stores.
"Sadly, Hugh and all the watchmakers who helped me have long passed away, leaving me with their trade to carry on. Since 1991, the Prescott Trade Shop became the culmination of skills I learned over the years with the support and help of the older masters. I am very grateful to all those who I had a chance to learn from."
Q: What service do you provide in the community?
Matt: "That's it - service. With over 20 years of experience in watch repair, I can service anything from Timex to Rolex. We network with local businesses also. Some stores sell watches but don't service them, so we work together for referrals.
"There are fewer and fewer watchmakers across the country, so I feel fortunate to be able to offer it direct to my customers. I've been engraving for even longer. With computer engraving and jewelry engraving, we stay busy."
Q: What's your key to business longevity?
Tracy: "We have $5 watch batteries that we also install. Repairs are affordable because it's direct, Matt does the repairs here in the shop. Diversity works in an investment portfolio and a business plan."
Matt: "We buy gold and silver that customers bring. I fix watches, jewelry, clocks, engrave on jewelry and make signs. Having a business-savvy wife who takes care of the books really helps, too."
Q: What is the best advice you've given and received?
Matt: Take at least a few courses in business. I started with SCORE and the Yavapai College Small Business Development Center. It's good to have a marketable skill, but a business survives by the same rules for me as for everyone. Taking care of business allows you to have business. Learn from successful people - someone successful told me that."
Q: What's something unique about you?
Matt: "I married my wife four years ago at age 47, and neither she or I had been married before. There's a lid for every pot after all. I muse that she and I are unique - just like everybody else."
Q: How many hours a week do you work?
Matt: "It's well over 50, but I still have a backlog of repairs to get to."
Q: How are you handling the economy?
Tracy: "Honestly, the downturn allowed us to purchase our building. We have been fortunate to stay busy through this economy. Many of our customers feel the pinch and whether we're helping them get extra money for something they are selling or if we're repairing an old keepsake, we try to be fair and help them with whatever they need.
"That said, several customers who were in dire straits are doing better, and I am confident that things are slowly improving. It will take time, and time really does heal all."
Q: If you could take a week away, what would you do?
Matt: "My wife and I just got back from Thanksgiving with her sister, brother-in-law and three nephews in Florida. The next two holidays fall on the weekends, so it was our only chance to take some time off. It's nose to the grindstone for the rest of the year."
Q: What's something unique about your business?
Matt: "When I was learning watch repair, it was called a dying art. Now, more than 20 years later, I realize the value of a dying art and keeping it alive. I will need to pass on this skill to the next generation of dying artists so they can have a profession for life."