The Fixer: Business grew from ashes of failure

Terry Reeb can trace back the start of a long run of success in business to a day 16 years ago, the day he went bankrupt.

"It was the best day of my life," he declares.

For the veteran businessman, whose past ventures included the former Ross & Terry's motorsports dealership (now RTR) and ownership of a downtown commercial building, going broke removed the crushing weight of worry.

It was over. Time to start anew.

But this time, Reeb vowed he wouldn't go back to his old ways, going bigger and going into debt. Instead, he'd use his talents at Citation RV Repairs Ltd., stay small and remain independent.

Florence, his wife of 11 years, says Terry doesn't repair - he fixes.

The difference?

To Terry and Florence, repairing a refrigerator unit on an RV means pulling it out and replacing it. Fixing it, on the other hand, involves a trip to the parts bin upstairs to find a used compressor, which is then installed in place of the old unit.

The Reebs are in the midst of a move from beside Rivershore Chrysler (which purchased the adjoining lot for expansion) on the Trans-Canada Highway auto strip to the former Fanny's Fabrics building at the west end of Valleyview Drive. Both acknowledge they had thoughts of retiring, but are happy with the balance of work and play that lets them flock south each October for several months, leaving the business in low gear with one trusted employee.

For now, however, thoughts of basking in the summer sun are reserved for people with time on their hands - a commodity of which the couple has precious little. They're moving a treasure trove of used RV parts, along with tools and all the things that make the business tick.

Reeb has no plans to change the business focus. While he's a whiz with tools, the specialist is often able to fix problems on the phone. Reeb said he'll sometimes diagnose and walk frustrated do-it-yourselfers through the repair.

The payoff comes when the RV owner tells somebody else about the friendly shop.

"Free stuff comes back tripled. It's smart business."

He'll never turn away a job, no matter if it's a converted school bus limping in from the Cariboo or a complex Airstream motorhome.

"I'm probably the only person in town who can fix an Airstream," Reeb declares. "It's an airplane on wheels."

The move to the new building won't bring any change to the Reeb philosophy of keeping it simple and small - relatively speaking. The new shop, at 6,200 square feet, is more than double the size of the old premises.

While there is excitement about the move (and the pending holiday south) Reeb said moving a parts-laden business is no more fun than moving households.

"After 16 years, I can't believe we've accumulated all this stuff."

cfortems@kamloopsnews.ca

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