People Watching: Stan-the-Fixit-Man

  • Stan Pollack with his 11-year-old Australian cattle dog, Sydney, in the garden of his Florence home. —GAZETTE STAFF / KEVIN GUTTING

  • Stan Pollack with his 11-year-old Australian cattle dog, Sydney, in the garden of his Florence home. —GAZETTE STAFF / KEVIN GUTTING

  • Stan Pollack with his 11-year-old Australian cattle dog, Sydney, in the garden of his Florence home. —GAZETTE STAFF / KEVIN GUTTING

  • Stan Pollack with his 11-year-old Australian cattle dog, Sydney, in the garden of his Florence home. —GAZETTE STAFF / KEVIN GUTTING

Published: 9/8/2017 9:41:40 AM

Stan Pollack is probably better known in these parts by his nom de guerre of Stan-the-Fix-it- Man. He’s the guy whose fire-engine-red van once could be spotted around the region as he took on a whole range of home repairs: fixing balky appliances, leaky windows and toilets, cracked tiles, poor-fitting doors and much more. (He recently replaced his signature van, but still makes house calls as usual.)

Pollack, who lives in Florence, once studied to be an agronomist. His gig as an all-around repairman began 35 years ago when, hoping to make some extra cash after finishing graduate school, he started asking neighbors if they needed any repairs done. “I grew up in a time when kids, mostly boys, were taught by their fathers how to use tools,” he says.

Pollack figures he has worked for thousands of clients since then, and he also has taught home-repair classes for 15 years. He’ll be leading another series of those at Smith Vocational High School in Northampton, beginning Sept. 19. 

“My wife and two daughters have taken my class,” Pollack says. “Curiously, most of my students over the years have been women. Some come with a basic knowledge of repairs while others are completely inexperienced but excited about learning new skills.” 

We caught up with Pollack to find out more about his day-to-day routine, which, truth be told, is anything but routine.

Breakfast and morning ritual: “I either have cereal, granola and fruit with almond or soy milk, or gluten-free pancakes or waffles made with our own eggs. We have five laying hens.” After showering, he says, “[I’ll] take our dog for a 20-minute walk along the section of the rail trail which I co-adopted. I also pick up candy wrappers, beer cans and other litter.”

What’s the strangest job you’ve ever been asked to do? “Probably the time I was asked to fix a blue- plastic, vibrating adult toy for a housewife.”

Are there some basic repairs you’ve been able to teach your clients to do, perhaps as they watch you on the job? “If clients are interested in DIY, I will give them simple advice about home repair and maintenance. For example, when I see a bulkhead door that has an accumulation of leaf and pine straw debris in the channel above the doors, I teach them how to keep this area clean so that the moist material doesn’t rust out the frame or doors.”

Lunch: “Sometimes I go to the River Valley Co-op and have the Pangaea Sushi, which is prepared right there and is by far the best in the Valley.” 

Best part of the job: “I still enjoy fixing things,  doing the detective work to discover the problem and then using my skills and experience to solve it. And I like watching the smiles on people’s faces when the punch list of home repairs is finished.”

Worst part of the job: “Dealing with uptight, neurotic clients who don’t understand the difficulty some jobs present and try to rip me off. Fortunately, only about one in 300 clients fits into this category.” 

Are there some repairs for which you have to call in extra help, such as a plumber, electrician or carpenter? “If I get stuck in a tough job, I either look in my reference books, go to a YouTube video or call a backup expert like Schneider Plumbing.” 

 What do you think you’d be if you weren’t a repairman? “My fantasy retirement job is dog trainer. I have enjoyed training dogs for about 40 years, and about seven years ago I started Come, Sit, Stay Dog Obedience Training with Stan Pollack, Canine Educator. 

Stan Pollack’s website is stanthefixitman.net. For information on his upcoming classes in home repairs, call Liz Tiley, director of adult community education, at Smith Vocational High School, at 587-1414, ext. 3530.

  

 




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