Nestled in the heart of Fairfield Rd. is a family owned and operated electrical equipment shop that has seen over 65 years of industrial, economic and social changes and is still around to tell about it. W.M. Beck & Sons strives to raise the standards on lawn equipment, parts and repairs.
“I don’t know where the time went,” W.M. Beck & Sons owner, Carrie Beck. “It doesn’t feel like I’ve been here for 65 years already.”
After William Beck’s death in 2007, her husband, Carrie gained control of the majority shares of the company with the minority being divided up among her five children; Judy, Rita, Bill, Doug and Herb. Now with 15 grandchildren, they’ve all worked in some capacity at the shop over the years. Throughout the repair shop and main offices, photographs of a close-knit family is displayed- evidence of the years past and the family that was created by the love of two special Beavercreek residents- William and Carrie Beck.
“Dad was a farmer before this. He basically got hay fever and couldn’t do anything without sneezing all the time. The doctor told him he had to stop farming. So, he sold out and bought a John Deer dealership, where the car wash is now [on Fairfield Rd.],” said Williams’ youngest son, Herb Beck. “The original building is not there anymore, of course, but he was there for a year or so.”
Like any good business, the room for expansion was needed. The building owner of the John Deer dealership wanted to raise Beck’s rent. Mr. Beck decided to go out on his own and purchased the current building across the street, in 1951. At the time, the Beck’s offered a speed shop as part of their tractor business. It wasn’t until 1974 that the building was expanded and underwent a facelift.
“Dad loved doing this stuff. Farmers would bring him stuff to fix all the time. He could weld, fabricate and anything else. So, having this shop was a natural fit for him. He only had a 6th grade education, but he could fix anything.”
During the formative years of the business, William and Carrie were Beavercreek School bus drivers. Although, Williams’ school bus days dwindled as the business blossomed, Carrie continued driving for over 20 years, all the while keeping the books for the company until they incorporated. With the family helping out at the shop, business was good. There was a time the shop had up to 19 employees. Now, they have eight. Times have changed for small business owners since the creation of big chain stores and economic changes in society. And, like many small businesses, W.M. Beck & Sons experienced their fair share of business shifting over the years.
“The farm equipment stopped selling because farms sold and became housing developments. So, we shifted business to lawn and garden equipment. It slowly evolved and we did really well there for a long time in lawn mowers. But, in the 90’s when chain stores started coming in the area, they just ate up our market,” Herb said. “Business has changed a lot. But, what the big chains don’t have that we have is years of knowledge and experience. My brother, Doug has been here over 50 years and I’ve been here for 49 years. Our mechanic has been in the business for about 40 years. If a customer has a question, we have an answer.”
W.M. Beck & Sons supported the community they lived and worked throughout the years by supporting local sports such as the Beavercreek Community Athletic Association, Eager Beaver Football Club, and sport leagues at Rotary Park. Beck’s son, Bill has been on the board of the Greene County Career Center helping students in the small engine repair program for over 15 years. The Beck’s offer jobs to the students to help them develop their skills. “We’ve had quite a few kids from the career center, and a lot of them have gone on to do really well,” Herb said. “People don’t know what my dad did for the community because he didn’t go around telling people.”
Besides the Beck’s children, Herb and Doug, they have all retired. Doug is getting ready to retire in the next couple of years, but Herb doesn’t have any plans of going anywhere.
“I enjoy doing what I do,” Herb said. “I could’ve made a whole lot more money doing something else but, I really enjoy doing what I’m doing. You can’t put a price on that.”