Duff’s Service Center adds Husqvarna line

12 years ago

Houlton Pioneer Times photograph/Gloria Austin
BU-CLR-duffs-dc2-pt-29ADDED LINE — Tom Duff, owner of Duff’s Service Center on the Bangor Road in Houlton, added his eighth line of inventory with the new Husqvarna line. Duff stands among his lawn equipment at the shop.

By Gloria Austin
Staff Writer

    HOULTON — The days of a business keeping just one product line has gone by the wayside. Just ask Tom Duff, owner of Duff’s Service Center at 306 Bangor St. in Houlton. Duff recently added his seventh product line with the addition of Husqvarna outdoor power equipment.
    “People said I need my head examined,” laughed Duff.
    Duff’s Service Center also carries Echo, Exmark, Troy-Bilt, Mantis, Columbia, and Bear Cat, a subsidiary of Echo.
    “Twenty years ago, you sold one or two lines and didn’t work on someone else’s,” he explained. “Those days are all over. Today, you have to be diversified.”
    Duff took on the Husqvarna line because of its reputation and the fact that the LS series lawn and garden tractors reminded him of the Bolens tractors that his father sold from the early 1970s to their demise in the mid-‘90s.
    “They were a heavy and durable tractor,” recalled Duff. “We really didn’t have anything quite like them after they were bought out in 1995, until we dealt with White, and then they basically went by the wayside. Husky is a heavy tractor that have many features that resemble the old Bolens.”
    Duff’s has already sold three of the Husqvarna tractors, along with attachments through Bercomac, one of the world’s largest lawn and garden/ATV accessory dealers — cabs, rotary tillers, snowblowers, snow blades and rotary brooms — out of Canada.
    “They have great equipment,” added Duff.
    Duff likes something specific about each of the lines he carries, but has stayed true to his grandfather and father’s legacy of repairing automobiles, as he has transitioned into the lawn and garden market as well.
Houlton Pioneer Times photograph/Gloria Austin
BU-CLR-duffs-dc4-pt-29STOCKED — Duff’s Service Center is stocked with lots of inventory for your lawn and tractor needs, as well as automobiles.

    Duff’s grandfather, John Cassidy operated Cassidy’s Service Station, selling and servicing Willys and Studebaker from the time he opened in 1934 to when he sold out to his son-in-law Carl Duff, who officially renamed the business Duff’s Service Station in 1969.
    Tom left for Florida out of high school, but after a work accident he came home to recuperate.
    “I was in Florida for five years,” he said. “When I came home, dad asked if I wanted to help around the shop. Well, I never left.”
    The younger Duff began working side-by-side with his father in 1980.
    “It’s all different now,” Duff commented.
    Duff’s Service Center still services all makes and models of vehicles, including diagnostics, brakes, front end repair, tires, general service and tune-up, and all other automotive repairs. This comes along with the lawn and garden side of the business. They are a licensed Maine state inspection station to top it all off.
    “We still have a lot of that work,” said Duff. “We try to anticipate what a customer might need.”
    Duff’s Service Center also does service and warranty work for the Tractor Supply Company throughout the county and as far south as Bangor.
    The lawn and garden season begins at the end of March into early April.
    “Last year, and so far this year we have had a lot of machines to work on,” said Duff. “Most people want them done in a seven-day span. It gets a little crazy.”
    Duff has been selling Husqvarna for about three weeks.
    “With this line, I am competing against myself on the Echo line of hand-held products,” he said. “But … each line has its spot in the market, especially with Husqvarna’s reputation with the chain saws and lawn and garden equipment.
    “Echo has a five-year warranty,” explained Duff. “It’s a strong consumer and commercial line. Mantis is a small cultivator or gardening tiller, while Troy-Bilt provides a heavier tiller for the bigger garden. Exmark is a commercial zero-turn mower, which I sell to landscapers as well as homeowners. The Columbia have been a great line too.”
    Husqvarna also allows Duff to add accessories or attachments to its line.
    “We try to get a nip of every part of the market,” he said.
    Last winter, Duff had a bad feeling about business and he was right.
    All of the snowblowers he had ordered were sold from July to November.
    “Because we didn’t have much snow, we didn’t sell a thing after that,” said Duff. “It was very tough. I’ve been putting in smaller orders. Call it intuition. I have been here with dad and I saw the recession of 1990-91. We are not out of this [the recession] by any means. I don’t know what the future holds, but I wonder.”
    Duff’s son, Ryan, who lives and works in Hampden with his family still is very much involved in the business.
    Duff misses having his son around the shop.
    “His ingenuity on the computer with the parts and warranty stuff made it so easy,” Duff said. “Now I do it all, [on a day-to-day basis] but in a different way. He’s still there to guide me along when I get in a pinch though,” laughs Duff.
    Duff took over the ownership of Duff’s Service Station in 2002 from his father Carl and is in the process of renaming the business Duff’s Service Center. Carl still frequents around the garage. Working alongside Duff are Jay Holck and Brent Cullen, who does some service work as well as pickups and deliveries.
    Looking at the old photographs on the garage wall, Duff noted the pictures were “priceless.” There is one aspect about the third-generation business that hasn’t changed.
    “I still like working with customers,” said Duff.
    Duff’s Service Center can be reached by calling 532-2061 or e-mailing duffsservice@gmail. Also check out their web page at duffsservice.com.
    The shop is open Monday through Friday 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturday 8 a.m. to noon. They service all makes and models of consumer and commercial lawn and garden equipment and carry a huge selection of parts.