CULVER — For Leila "Lee" Walle, fixing clocks is not only a way to pass time, but a passion.
The passion began years ago when Walle was in the right place at the right time. She met Denise Chestnut at a Women's Business Association event, where she told Walle about an apprenticeship opportunity at her husband Bill's shop, Ye Olde Clocksmith.
Bill Chestnut and Walle originally worked together for Great Plains Manufacturing in Salina, until he lost his job and moved to Lindsborg where he opened his shop and gained Walle as an apprentice.
"It peaked my interest so I talked to him and he said, 'Sure, come sit in the shop with me some Saturday and see what you think.' I did and he handed me some old clock work to see if I could tell him what was wrong, and I knew zero about how a clock actually works," Walle laughed.
Although her hands were a bit rusty to start, he believed she had what it took to become a clock repairer. Walle went back three nights a week in the shop and learned she had a talent for this rare business.
"After three years of working with him in his basement, he sent me out on my own and said, 'Go, you got it, call me if you need anything, I'm here to support you,'" Walle said.
In 2010, Walle began her business, Ye Olde Clocksmith II, which was named after Bill Chestnut's original business. Then in 2014, Bill Chestnut passed away in September that year.
"After he passed away, I decided to change the business name to Time Flies Clock Repair Service and became an authorized service center for Howard Miller Clocks and Ridgeway Clocks," Walle said.
Her business began to boom and she found herself doing something that not many people appreciate or know about.
"I've been at it for about 10 years on my own now and my business has definitely grown. I do no advertising, just my business card and word-of-mouth," Walle explained. "Clocks are an interesting thing, and people have very strong attachments to them, especially if they're an antique. Unfortunately, there are not a lot of clock smiths who still do this type of work and that was part of what peaked my interest in this business."
After being on her own for quite some time, she began to learn that each clock is different and no two work the same.
"Sometimes I'll zero in on fixing one particular piece because of how a mechanical movement works, one part is dependent on another. If one part breaks or is back and even if you fix that one part, the other parts are dependent on it," she explained.
Walle offers service repairs for clocks and clock cleanings and in-home service repairs for grandfather clocks, which are her favorite pieces to work on. Her in-home service repairs for grandfather clocks cost $125 and mantle or wall clocks cost $65.
"Its an honor to be trusted to come into someones home and secondly, to be trusted with something that is dear to them. Its a great source of joy to work on and see them work again," Walle said. "I love grandfather clocks, the antiques. They hold a special place for me just because I have a couple of my own." Often times, Walle will pick up the clocks herself or clients can bring them into her shop at her home.
However, time is not of the essence when it comes to repairing these delicate pieces.
Walle said it can take up to a whole year to repair a clock, depending on what is wrong with it while other times, it can take only an hour to repair one.
"If I work from home, I may spend six or eight hours taking stuff apart and putting it back together and observing how it works," she said.
Walle has a full time job as a computer programmer for Great Plains Manufacturing in Salina along with her side job of repairing clocks, and often times has to limit herself to how many repairs she can do.
"I try to keep a balance and not turn it into a full time job yet, I'd like to retire from the job I have first," Walle laughed.
One time that is particularly busy for Walle is daylight savings time when everyone turns their clocks back an hour.
"It comes in waves, it seems like this time is popular because people will turn their old clocks back an hour and they'll quit working and call me," Walle laughed.
For more information call Walle at 785-283-4838 or 785-820-7759.
Contact Brooke Haas by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow her on Twitter @ MacSentinel.