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5800 Houchin St (239)514-3840
MotoRehab5800 Houchin St. Naples, Florida 34109
Don’t throw it out -- take it to rehab
By BRENDA HAWKINS Wednesday, June 18, 2008
“An apple a day keeps the doctor away” goes the old saying and for Lee Freeling the adage couldn’t be more apropos.
“I’m a big believer in preventative maintenance,” says Freeling, owner of Motorehab (pronounced Moto-rehab), one of Naples’ only small-engine repair shops. “If you bring it in while it’s still running it’s going to cost a heck of a lot less to fix than if you wait until it quits.”
Freeling says communication and education are a big part of his job.
“I spend a lot of time teaching people basic things, like how to check the oil, why you need stabilizer in a mower’s gas tank or that you need an initial tuneup within the first 20 hours’ use,” he says. “But I like all the aspects of running a small shop. I like the responsibility of ordering parts, of customer service and even the business part of it. It’s an old-fashioned way to run a business, but people like knowing the guy they drop off their equipment to is the same guy who’s going
to work on it.”
As a kid, Freeling always had a passion for things mechanical. He graduated from fine-tuning dirt bikes to working on cars – back when you could actually work on them.
Now, as a graduate of the American Motorcycle Institute and certified small-engine repair technician, he works on everything from chain saws and pressure washers to portable generators, lawn mowers and yes, motorcycles.
“My goal is not to go after the professional lawn service businesses, but rather, to target homeowners,” said Freeling. “A lot of the big box stores are willing to sell you the equipment, but they may not be able to assemble it for you or explain the right mix for oil and gas. There aren’t too many dealers that service what they sell. That’s why there’s a real need for an independent motorcycle and small engine repair shop where homeowners can bring equipment for repairs or regular maintenance.”
Freeling says his success is due largely to word-of-mouth referrals, but puts the credit for actually being in business squarely at his wife’s feet.
“She went through the highs and lows of growing pains with our other business,” he said. Freeling started Marco Small Engine Repair in 1997 and sold it seven years later. “It’s not a real easy way to make a living. You can’t just put a sign in the window and expect people to beat a path to your door. I needed her blessing to open this shop.”
Fortunately, she gave him thumbs up for his next entrepreneurial venture.
Freeling stays competitive by buying parts wholesale. He promises to meet or beat local prices on service. In addition to selling Honda engines, he is certified in Briggs and Stratton service, provides blade sharpening and installs and computer balances the new motorcycle tires he sells.
According to Freeling, the only things he won’t work on are motorized skateboards – they’re unlicensed vehicles – and scooters from China, but everything else makes his daily motorcycle commute from Marco Island to the Pine Ridge Industrial Park, worth every minute.
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