By Adam Droscha Staff Writer,
The County Journal
Since 2002 the Clark men have provided Leslie and the surrounding areas (up to 100 mile radius) with diverse farm equipment repair. For the rural areas of mid-Michigan, there's never a time to slow down. Matt Clark, the oldest son who took over the business from his father Dan, understands the importance of getting a farmer's tractor back to the field, and the truck back to the road. Among the services and opportunities promised to customers of Clark's Sales and Service, Matt shares his pride and plans for the future for the family business.
"I'm working with two sons of two men my dad worked with. We really are a second-generation business. Guys trained by their dads," said Matt.
Matt's father and brother started Clark's originally. When Matt's brother passed away tragically in 2006, Dan invited Matt to join the family business. At the time Matt was working elsewhere, but was pleased to join and help his father. Matt took over the business ten years ago, and now looks forward to his own son of 11 learning the same mechanical skills.
With the passing of the business to the next generations, Clark's experienced growth and expansion. Matt recently purchased the buildings, which formerly were leased to the business. In the next few years Matt hopes to expand operations to more buildings on the property, and hopefully establish another location in the Howell area. For now, Clark's happily serves within a roughly 50-mile radius of its Leslie location.
"We work on all makes and models, John Deere, Case tractors, and Ford tractors," said Matt. "Any tractor, big or small, we fix them all."
At any given time Clark's will have five to six repair projects going on at once. There are four full time technicians, and the turnover time will generally be within seven to 10 days. While Matt commented on the difficulties of staying competitive with the larger dealerships and repair services, he still takes pride in Clark's lower prices, as well as pickup and delivery services. It's the urgency, going the extra mile, and diversity that sets Clark's apart from other services.
"They (customers) all say that they don't feel that the bigger companies care about them," said Matt. "We feel we do just as a good a job, if not better. If they're not happy with their bigger dealership or other service, they won't be disappointed."
Matt doesn't believe that the diversity of equipment they service diminishes their ability to provide quality repair. One of the most important differences with Clark's technicians is that they were trained with hands on experience. Head knowledge only goes so far with farm equipment repair. It's the hands on training that not only reinforces the education, but also creates experience-based knowledge.
"We have the ability to fix anything," said Matt. "Our bread and butter is tractor models from the 1950s through the 90s."
While Clark's places a lot of emphasis on farm equipment repair, there is also auto repair available. One of the expansions Matt looks forward to is a shop solely for auto repair.