From the Mag: Secrets of a Clean Shop

One day, a group of car enthusiasts who meet for breakfast and shop visits toured Larry Fechter’s auto restoration business in Iola, Wisconsin. Later on, Fechter ran into one of the visitors at a car show.

The man said, “Hey, I remember you—you’re the guy with the clean shop!”

Fechter, in fact, is sort of a clean shop specialist.

His ability to run a tight ship at his shop stems in part from jobs he’s had managing facilities, from city parks to a school district maintenance program. And he isn’t shy about sharing his secrets.

How does he keep his work environment so incredibly clean and organized? How is it that the wall behind his grinder and wire wheel has no debris on it? Why is there no media on the floor under his two blast cabinets?

He’s since sold his restoration shop, but his cleanliness techniques still apply.

Q: How come you do this “neat garage” thing better than most folks?

Larry Fechter: It has a lot to do with my working background and belief that a restoration starts with the facility—not the car. A shop has to reflect what the car will be like when you’re done.

As I restore a car, I need to work clean and spotless. It makes the project go better. What makes the shop look the way it does is the restoration, but the restoration also drives the shop’s appearance.

Q: How did your occupational background help you build this?

LF: I was in building trades and facilities management for over 30 years. I’ve constructed commercial buildings, school buildings and residential buildings. I built four of my own homes.

Being a school maintenance director made me become a jack of all trades. You learn how to do a little bit of everything.

Q: Did you spend a million dollars to build the place?

LF: I’m not a millionaire. I’m a blue collar worker. I can do quite a bit myself.

Click here to read the full interview in the September issue of THE SHOP

A.J. Hecht

A.J. Hecht is the managing editor of THE SHOP and host of the In Gear with THE SHOP podcast. Have an idea, a tip, or a question you’d like to see answered? Contact A.J. at ahecht@cahabamedia.com.

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