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Motor mender

Farmington woman enjoys fixing lawn mowers and weed eaters

FARMINGTON — Putting a lawn mower back in working order might not seem like something that would normally be too exhilarating.

For Teresa Wood, though, when something that moments before was in pieces on the floor fires back up, with no parts left over, "it's still a little bit of a thrill," she said.

So you might say it's thrill seeking that has led Wood into her most recent venture: a mobile lawn mower repair company called Green Sneakers.

As "mobile lawn mower repair" implies, Green Sneakers, which Wood said started operations in March, travels to those who needs repairs on mowers or other yard equipment with small engines.

Wood said she wasn't looking for thrills or even planning on starting a business when she decided to take classes in small-motor repair from Salt Lake Community College in 2002. Rather, she said she signed up for classes a few years after her family took up snowmobiling. It seemed like a good idea for someone in the family to know how to maintain and service the snowmobiles, and to be able to make repairs if something went wrong.

That someone might as well be her, she figured.

Once she started taking the classes, one thing led to another. She found that she enjoyed learning about and working on engines. Since the class practiced on lawn mowers and similar equipment to get experience, she said she learned to repair mowers, opening the door to her eventually opening Green Sneakers.

Green Sneakers had to wait a few years, though. She said instructors at SLCC suggested she start her own lawn mower repair business, but she didn't initially pursue the suggestion. Instead, she took at job at the Ace Hardware in Kaysville, working in their repair shop.

After a few years of working at Ace, she said she felt she had the experience to strike out on her own. And, she said, the timing felt right.

A mobile repair service, also a suggestion of her instructors, felt right as well. A service such as Green Sneakers is ideal for people who can't get into a shop for whatever reason — maybe they can't lift the mower, or they don't have a truck to haul it in with, Wood said. Plus, it's convenient, both for her and for her customers.

Gary DeJong, of Central Davis Sewer District, agreed. He said Central Davis Sewer District has employed the services of Green Sneakers several times, for maintenance and repair of the weed eaters and lawn mowers used by their lawn crew. When equipment breaks down, instead of stopping work to haul the equipment into a shop, he said, they call Wood who can come by to not only fix the broken equipment but service the other mowers and weed eaters as well.

"I don't think there's anything she can't tackle or do — she's a jack of all trades," he said.

This description fits Wood, not only in her mechanical pursuits but in the rest of her life as well. In addition to a small-engine mechanic, she is a biker, a builder, a farmer, a mother, a runner and a writer.

After all, she said, "Everybody needs a project, something to learn."

And she seems to have no trouble coming up with projects. For instance, in 2000, she said she wrote up a series of essays, forming a family history. A few years later, she volunteered at the Rape Recovery Center, taking crisis calls.

Less recently, when her six children were younger, Wood said her family grew and sold pumpkins each year, running a road-side stand. They used the proceeds from the pumpkin sales to raise money to build a cabin for the family.

In addition to the cabin, Wood said she and her family have built various other barns, sheds and cabins for themselves and others. They also built her daughter's home in Morgan a few years ago, she said.

After the home was finished, Wood said, she decided to run from her home in Farmington to her daughter's home in Morgan — a distance of approximately 30 miles.

"I was recovering from that for a while," she said.

Not so long that it put her off future physical exertion, though. Since that run, Wood has done a few other things she said others might consider extreme, most recently participating in the Wasatch Back Relay, a 12-person, 175 mile relay in June 2006.

Before the relay, it was two cross-country bike rides. The first ride, she said, was to Arkansas, to pick up her son from an LDS mission. The second was from Astoria, Ore., back to Farmington. She didn't undertake either trip alone. Her parents accompanied her on the ride to Arkansas, her father riding and her mother driving the RV. The ride from Oregon was taken with her daughter who was about to leave on an LDS mission. Traveling without an RV this time, Wood said they camped or stayed in motels this time, so they got to meet a lot of people.

"You are very approachable on a bike," she said.

That's part of what she enjoys so much about running Green Sneakers — the chance to meet people, she said.

Wood said she plans on continuing to run Green Sneakers until it is no longer enjoyable for her but doesn't foresee that day coming very soon.

"I think it will last me well into the time I am either physically or mentally incapable of doing it," she said.

That is, unless another pursuit takes the place of lawn mower repair before she is incapable. Wood has yet more plans for the future: She said she would like to learn French one day, and she said her husband would like them to spend their later years in Africa, digging wells and teaching organic farming practices. French seems like a practical language to know, she said.

For now, though, Wood said she charges around $40 plus parts for a maintenance job. Other local mobile repair services range from $49-$60 plus parts for maintenance.

Wood can be reached at 725-5570 or 451-8902.

E-mail: dmaxfield@desnews.com