Boulder Than Most

Colorado shop closes down admirably after 40-year run

In what seems like an on-a-timer monthly occurrence, another distinguished electric motor repair shop has decided to shut down. This time, it’s Boulder Electric Motor Co., of Boulder, Colorado. It was family-owned and operated. Sounds familiar. It was beloved within the local community. Sounds familiar. It built up a reputation of excellent service, and made folks realize they could keep a motor longer if they had it occasionally maintained and conditioned…sounds familiar.

Bill Thielman Jr., left, age 64, and Bill Sr., 89, stop helping customers to be in a photo. The owners of Boulder Electric Motor Company are shutting down after 41 years of renowned service.— Cliff Grassmick, Daily Photo Staff Photographer September 13, 2016

Bill Thielman Jr., left, age 64, and Bill Sr., 89, stop helping customers to be in a photo. The owners of Boulder Electric Motor Company are shutting down after 41 years of renowned service.— Cliff Grassmick, Daily Camera Staff Photographer September 13, 2016

In trying times for small industrial businesses, the electric motor repair shop is the martyr; a lamented, lost love for an abundance of America. And Boulder Electric’s owner, Bill Thielman, summed up why in one simple sentence, in a phone interview with EA.

“They build electric motors so well now that they last forever.”

Efficiency has always been important. Why wouldn’t it be? everyone wants optimum performance for their time invested. As far as electric motor efficiency is concerned, however, reaching higher heights in industrial applications means reaching terminal velocity in repair and service shops, in some cases.

Thielman, Sr. started the company in 1975, and had the unique type of electric motor company that both sold new motors and had a full service shop. Over the years, Thielman estimates he served at least 1,000 unique customers, and while the larger portion were purchasing new motors, he acknowledged the camaraderie that comes with great repair service. “We had customers who relied on us for years,” Thielman told EA, “We would fix things for them, or tell them how to fix them, including power tools. We serviced motors up to 300 hp. That covered most of the market that was in this area.”

The original shop was supplemented by a second store in Fort Collins in 1977, as first reported by Jerd Smith of the Daily Camera. The Thielmans’ (Bill, Sr. and son Billy) customer base was elastic and eclectic—it included the Boulder Public Library, Colorado University, Western Electric, and IBM. Over the last 40-plus years, you wouldn’t have to look too hard for any of the various reasons Boulder Electric decided to shut down: the aforementioned market shift, the reality of age, and sadly, financial issues that Mr. Thielman admirably chalked up to a ‘that’s-life’ deficit. “Little things,” he told EA when asked what advice he would give to future shop owners and operators, “I had trouble with my bookkeeping.” Ultimately, after having a reliable employee on the books for 17 years, Thielman was hard-pressed to find a suitable replacement and was eventually faced with around $200,000 in losses. He praised Accountemps for helping him recover and find a replacement. “I’d recommend them to anybody,” he said, praising the company’s stringent screening process.

In the electromechanical application and maintenance industry, we’d recommend places like Boulder Electric to anybody. There’s no doubt the shop, and the Thielmans, will be missed.

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