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These businesses have an office on four wheels
Mower repairman, vet each work out of their vehicles
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John Bowmar, owner of Big John's Mobile Mower Maintenance, prepares to work on a customer's lawn mower. - photo by Tom Reed

John Bowmar had dreams of owning his own lawn mower repair shop, but the cost of land and a building were out of his reach.
So, he bought a truck.

In a box truck with a hydraulic lift gate that he has turned into a mower lift, Bowmar has a complete shop on wheels. The truck has a generator, an air compressor and an assortment of hand tools that allow Bowmar to make lawn mower repairs in the customer's driveway.

Now his calendar is full of appointments and his dream of a building have gone away.

"The mobile unit helps a lot of people, because they have no way of getting a large mower to a shop," Bowmar said as he worked on a customer's mower.

"We carry a lot of parts on the truck, and if we do have to come back, we don't charge an extra fee for that."

In many cases, the customer leaves the mower outside and Bowmar repairs it while they are at work.

He welded extensions onto the lift gate that allow him to lift a heavy mower to an easy working height. On this call, he repaired a loose belt on a riding mower and did a preseason check up that included sharpening the blades.

His only obstacle is weather.

"In one week, we lost three days to the weather," he said. "Now, we're playing catch-up."

In the early spring season, Bowmar leaves home at daylight and is gone until dark.

"On good days, as they say, you make hay while the sun shines," he said.

Bowmar takes his calls on a mobile phone and keeps his calendar on his dashboard.

For Dr. Becky Shelton, her mobile veterinary clinic is her only office.

"I had done the typical practice for four years when I first got out of school, but that gets old," Shelton said.

"I came up with the idea of a mobile clinic," she said.

At first, she worked in an overnight clinic in Atlanta and began making calls by day working out of her car. In time, her client base grew enough to purchase a mobile clinic that is a hospital on wheels.

I've never looked back," she said.

The large vehicle, similar to a small motor home, has an examination and surgery table, X-ray machine, the ability to do minor blood work and has running water and electricity.

"Anything you can do in a clinic, I can do, only in your driveway," Shelton said.

She said that some animals have an aversion to going to a clinic and during the visit the pet has her undivided attention.

"This is really good for elderly customers who may not have access to transportation or a young mother who might have four dogs and five kids," she said.

For Shelton, the greatest thing is the changing view from her windshield.

"No two days are the same," she said. "It's always different and I just enjoy being outside and seeing different places."

Shelton, like many operators of mobile-only services, has a portable machine that uses satellite technology to process credit card transactions.

She manages to schedule maintenance on the truck on her days off and says that mechanics understand the urgency of having the vehicle back in service right away.

Cellular phone technology has spawned a number of individual operators in Hall County whose only office is their truck or van, including appliance and air conditioning repair, plumbers and even a company that offers pet grooming right in your driveway.

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