Echoes of an Era

Wichita shop closes after over 75 years

In Wichita, Kansas, an electric motor and tool repair shop that was a local staple for more than 75 years is now closing.

Richmond Electric, which was family owned and operated for a majority of its tenure since opening its doors in 1938, is now being sold and shutting down for good, as Carrie Rengers of the Wichita Eagle reported Tuesday.

Trish VanOsdel, one of two family members who remained until the end, is the daughter of John Edwards, Sr., who worked at the shop in the 1950s and bought it outright in 1969. VanOsdel and her mother Marie Noyes were both still present at the business up until this week.

Richmond Electric serviced and repaired equipment such as air compressors, covers, electric engines and motors, generators, starters, and pumps in the 77 years it was open. In addition to this, it had a local reputation as a tool repair shop. Meaning the original kind you use with your hands. VanOsdel references this as the chief reason for closure.

“The tool repair business is not very lucrative, and we’ve kind of struggled over the last five years.” VanOsdel said in an interview with Rengers.

The site which once employed her father and all four of her siblings at one time or another will not go to waste, however. VanOsdel sold the motor portion of the business to Rotek Services, a Wichita company that services and repairs all varieties of rotating and electrical technology. She credits Rotek’s Brian McNeil for an easy transition that was otherwise daunting. She had generations worth of equipment, tools, and supplies that needed to be dealt with at the 8,000 square foot location. Selling to Rotek took that weight off her back. They had a friendly preexisting relationship as fellow local businesses, even though Rotek specializes in larger equipment and the electric motors they repair are often for refineries, chemical plants, and power companies. “Whenever a homeowner would come in…I would always send them to Richmond Electric,” McNeil said to Rengers. He wanted to keep the local customer base, which had been unconditionally loyal for so many years, in Wichita, so his company intends to now include smaller electric motor repairs as well. He purchased Richmond’s repair assets, took on their contacts and also hired their technician. The tool service repair will not continue.

As for the rest of VanOsdel’s inventory, she will be holding a three-day sale from Oct. 15-17th, 8 AM to 5 PM. It will consist of mostly power tools. She also has a prospective buyer for the building itself.

VanOsdel is saddened by the closing, but feels ready to move on and plans to pursue her art and sculpture work, which she did for years directly from the shop at Richmond Electric.


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