by Garrad Lee
Take one look through the before and after pictures on the Fondren Small Engine Repair Facebook page and you can see why people in Fondren look to owner Andrew Hitchcock as a rebuilder.
Lawnmowers, trimmers, leaf blowers, chainsaws and more from all around the neighborhood find their way to Hitchcock’s care to get a second chance.
“I get the most satisfaction from taking something that others have cased away, or given up on, and breathing new life into it. At the end of the day, I can say to myselfÂ ‘Here, look at what I have done.’ It may not sound like a big deal to someone else, but to me, having something tangible – hearing the purring from a well-tuned carburetor and giving off the smell the exhaust fumes – that gives me the greatest satisfaction,” he says.
Hitchcock’s proclivity for fixing things started around the age of nine, when he took apart his first trimmer to see how it worked, but wasn’t able to get it put back together. Ever since then, he saw no need to pay someone else to fix things for him and instead became the fixer himself. “I was the kid in the neighborhood that you would go to if you needed something fixed. I loved the challenge of figuring out what caused something to break, repairing it and devising a way to keep it from breaking again,” he says.
As he grew older, Hitchcock’s repairing hobby continued to grow, he said. “This mindset carried over into adulthood. I had a very boring desk job that left me feeling very unfulfilled. I eventually started looking for broken mowers around Fondren that I could fix up and flip on Craigslist to make a few extra bucks to feed my other hobbies like brewing beer and restoring cars. The best thing about fixing engines though, was that it made me feel like I was doing something, something worthwhile. I finally felt the fulfillment I had been craving for a number of years.”
Soon, Hitchcock realized, in what he calls a “light bulb” moment, that he could make a living out of this. “I realized that I could fix engines, make a decent amount of money, work from home, and do something that made me happy,” he says.
In early 2015 he set up an LLC for Fondren Small Engine Repair and by December of 2015, he was able to resign from his job to focus more on the new business and to spend time with his daughter.
There’s more to it, though than just fixing machines and re-building engines. “I think there may be some deeper meaning behind that drive to fix and repair too.
“Who really knows what it is – to me, it’s about second chances,” he says. “I like knowing that something that was once considered garbage and useless could be made new again. I think there’s a deep-rooted desire in the human psyche, where we all want to loved, even though we have our broken parts. It’s our deepest insecurity. I think when I fix a mower for someone, they get a small reminder of just that—that just because something is broken, doesn’t mean it can’t be fixed.”