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Article updated: 3/1/2013 2:10 PM

Moving Picture: Time-tested skills behind longevity of repair shops

By Brian Hill

Time is of the essence for Keith Krantz, owner of American Clock & Watch Repair in Elgin and St. Charles, as his work days are filled with fixing his customers' grandfather clocks and watches.

"I used to hang around here with my dad at the store when I was just a kid," Krantz remembers. "Then my mom wanted me to learn how to fix watches and clocks."

So his father, Herb, would bring him watches to fix at home, and when he got a little more proficient his dad brought him back to the store to work. After his father died in 1980, Krantz went to college and earned his certifications in watch repair and clock repair.

"I had a few other jobs, but I just kept coming back to the shop," he says.

Krantz splits his time between his stores in St. Charles and Elgin, the latter of which his dad originally opened in 1954. In between, he squeezes in house calls to work on the big grandfather clocks at customers' homes. In recent years, with the sales of clocks declining, Krantz has transitioned to doing more service calls.

"My service call area has increased a lot. I go anywhere from Madison, out to Dubuque, down to Peoria."

Many of his repeat customers watched Krantz grow up. "It's really pretty neat. We know each other and they trust me," Krantz says.

It is not unusual for his customers to leave the door open when they are not home just so he can come and repair their clocks. Krantz admits that he is a talkative guy.

"I like the service calls. If the customers are willing to talk, it's nice to learn what the people are like," he says.

"I still love it," Krantz says of taking old pieces apart and making them work again. "It really is tedious work, if you do it right, but I think most people appreciate it."

Krantz likes to split the work up, repairing watches on Tuesdays and Wednesdays and clocks the rest of the week.

When asked about his own broken watch, Krantz laughs to himself.

"Everyone else's repairs comes first," he says.

Ÿ Do you know someone in the suburbs whose story we should document? Let us know at movingpicture@dailyherald.com.

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