By KEVIN CHIRI
Tammany West news
COVINGTON – After 32 years in the business of selling and servicing lawnmowers and small engines, William Paige understands one of the reasons he has survived the ups-and-downs of the small business world.
“When the economy is good, people spend a little more on new mowers or weed eaters; but when the economy is bad, they patch up their old mowers a little more and that means they need us to fix them,” he said.
Paige knows that one way or another, the business he operates with his son Jason Paige is going to have an opportunity to be successful—not to mention the fact they are among the top 10 Dixie Chopper dealers in the nation the past two years.
Paige Lawnmower, at 1998 Surgi Dr., just off Hwy. 59 coming into Mandeville, actually started in Bogalusa in October of 1981 when Paige decided to go it alone after working a number of years at similar stores.
While he is appreciative of the support from the community for his business, Paige is an old-school businessman who knows there is another reason small engine sales and service work has supported his family for over three decades.
“People have to trust others for many things. You’ve got to trust your doctor, you’ve got to trust your car repairman, and you’ve got to be able to trust the guy who fixes your lawnmower,” he said. “There are too many people out there looking for a chance to take advantage of folks. We have never done that and never will. It’s about showing people they can trust you.”
Son Jason Paige helped his father open the Mandeville store in February, 1993 and became a partner in the business after graduating. Jason has learned the same lessons from his father.
“Our family attitude has really been the key to our success,” he said. “We treat people equally and with integrity when it comes to fixing their mowers. We are here to fix their problem and I think we’ve always done that fairly.”
Older son Steven Paige worked in the Bogalusa store for many years before the store moved to Mandeville. He now helps behind the counter on Surgi Drive when not attending medical school or performing the duties of his internship. Steven’s good attitude and winning way with customers has been another contributor to the business’ success through the years.
Paige Lawnmower not only earned the respect of the Bogalusa community in their early years, and now in the St. Tammany Parish area since 1993, but they are getting national recognition as well from the family of Dixie Chopper mowers.
Since 2012, Paige has been honored by the Dixie Chopper company for being in the top 10 dealers in the United States. The company doesn’t designate who is in what position among the top 10, but it is clear Paige is among their top dealers nationally and well respected since William Paige sits on the Dixie Chopper Dealer Advisory Board.
“It’s really about being honest with the customers. That is how we have done well for many years in this business,” Paige added.
Growing up in the Bogalusa area, Paige graduated from Varnado High School and took advantage of the years when “shop class” taught a lot of important skills. It turned out to be the spark for Paige Lawnmower many years later.
“I learned so many skills from my teacher, Mr. Hayward Boone. He taught us boys about electric, plumbing, carpentry and working on small engines,” Paige recalled. “We got great training and it’s something they need more of in the vo-tech setting today.”
Paige said there are many good jobs for young people today if they had more opportunities for training at vo-tech schools. “High schools have gotten away from teaching industrial arts,” he said. “There are a lot of people who could use that training to get good jobs out there and we need more of that.”
He worked a number of years for Sears and Otasco stores in the Bogalusa area, all in the area of lawnmowers, appliances and tires, gaining good experience before opening his own service station in Bogalusa that provided repairs for mowers and weed eaters. In 1979 he opened Paige Lawnmower in Bogalusa, and has seen his success remain constant from that time.
“My wife Pam worked with me for 14 years. She was the parts lady and I was the mechanic,” he said.
“There are places where they have parts changers and some places have mechanics,” he said. “We are all certified mechanics here and that is a big difference from parts changers. We really diagnose the problem and fix it.”
Paige Lawnmower has the largest parts department on the North Shore in the area of small engines expertly maintained by longtime parts manager Harold Dupont. Whether for a new mower, parts, or repairs and service Paige Lawnmower can meet all of your needs. Stop in Tuesday through Saturday or call 985-624-4822.