BY KAREN GERHARDINGER | MIRROR REPORTER — When Dennis Tippie opened JAM Small Engine Service and Sales in Whitehouse 10 years ago, he made one thing clear: Dogs are welcome.
That’s no surprise, given that his own dogs were known to relax among the Big Dog mowers in the small Providence Street showroom.
While his pups prefer to stay at home these days, JAM’s footprint has tripled in size, allowing more room for Big Dog zero-turn mowers, Husqvarna chainsaws, 150 types of mower blades and parts and supplies for most lawn and garden equipment.
“Before we opened up, we did research and saw that – except for guys working out of their garage – there wasn’t a place you could take your lawn equipment for service,” Tippie said. “We researched companies to line up quality manufacturers.”
Big Dog and Dixon, which has since been purchased by Husqvarna, rose to the top. While JAM sells those two manufacturers’ equipment, Tippie and Dan Sanders will service just about any make or model, including Briggs and Stratton, Kohler, Kawasaki, Toro and Troy-Built.
“We do warranty work and service mowers, trimmers, chainsaws, snowblowers, even four-wheelers and outboard mowers,” Tippie said.
In addition to sharpening chains and blades, JAM has picked up additional tire work since Ted’s Marathon closed last year.
Spring and late fall are the best times to get equipment tuned up and ready. Summer is usually busy with repairs. Preference is given to clients who bought equipment from JAM; otherwise, repairs are on a first-come, first-served basis. Pickup and delivery of larger items is available daily anywhere in the Anthony Wayne area for $30.00.
Since opening, JAM has added some well-known commercial clients, including Anthony Wayne Youth Foundation and Wizards Fastpitch Softball. Both are fans of the Big Dog.
A zero-turn mower might be more costly than a mowing tractor, but it eliminates the need for a walk-behind mower to trim in tight spots, and it gets the job done in half the time. Customers are also surprised that a zero-turn can be used with a snow blade and for towing, Tippie said.
Big Dog made some changes this year, including adding a more aggressive rear tire.
“It’s one of the smoothest operating machines out there,” Tippie said. “If you are interested, but you’re not sure how it will work on your property, we’ll take it out there and you can test it out.”
Growing up, Tippie and his four brothers were used to seeing their father, a mechanic, work on engines in the garage.
With knowledge about all sorts of equipment, Tippie often finds customers asking him for advice. He smiles and points to a jar filled with $1.00 bills. On it is a sign that says, “My time and advice are not free.”
“I made that for him,” admitted Mindy Noaker, who joined JAM three years ago and now manages the parts and computer for JAM. She grew up in the automotive business, and then gained knowledge about the mower business.
Noaker was a godsend for Tippie, who was working to manage the business on his own when his brother Larry departed from the business after a few years. This past year, despite the pandemic, was actually pretty busy, with people going outside and working on their lawns and breaking more equipment, Tippie joked.
One of the benefits of being in the same location for 10 years is that Tippie has gotten to know not only his customers, but also fellow business owners. He’s developed good working relationships with the owners of General Pro Hardware, Whitehouse Inn and Whitehouse Motors, which is owned by his father-in-law, Bud Bauman and brother-in-law, Darryl Bauman.
While JAM marked its 10th anniversary in March, the shop continues to offer a 10-percent discount to military personnel and first responders.
One more thing: Bring your dog.
For information, visit JAM on Facebook or call (567) 686-1334.