Farm Horizons, June 2012
Schiroo Electrical Rebuilding: an electrifying line of labor
By Starrla Cray
Even as a young boy, Bruce Schiroo was “wired” for electrical work.
“My favorite toy was a piece of wire and a battery,” he admitted with a laugh.
And, after more than 25 years owning Schiroo Electrical Rebuilding in Glencoe, that spark has never left.
“It’s sad when I hear people say they dread going to work,” Bruce said. “I just love what I’m doing. This is my life.”
Schiroo Electrical Rebuilding offers diagnosis and repair of electrical system problems, custom-made battery cables, custom rebuilding of alternators, starters, generators, and more.
“We fix anything from a lawnmower to a locomotive,” Bruce said, adding that he recently purchased a flatbed tow truck to haul cars and small tractors to his shop.
Making that connection
Bruce’s first pull toward the electrical industry occurred at age 8, when his older brother, Duane, brought home a handmade flashlight from school.
“It was just so fascinating,” Bruce said. “Electricity is just a really odd thing. You can’t see it, and it’s a challenge working with an invisible object.”
As a farm boy growing up four miles southwest of Glencoe, Bruce had plenty of opportunities to expand his electrical know-how. By late elementary school, he and his three brothers were constructing their own “burglar alarms” and other simple devices.
After high school graduation in 1979, Bruce attended Hutchinson Area Vocational Technical Institute for farm equipment diesel mechanics while working part time at a local farm equipment dealership.
Bruce excelled at his classes, but was even more intrigued by a professor’s side hobby of fixing starters and alternators.
Before he knew it, Bruce had developed his own hobby, which continued to grow even after he graduated and became a service manager.
“Four years later, I quit my full-time job,” he said. “My hobby got away on me.”
By 1986, Bruce had purchased a 1,000-square-foot repair shop in Glencoe. The business continued to thrive, and in 1995, he moved into his current 7,000-square-foot space (1215 Hennepin Ave.).
“When I first got here, I thought, ‘what am I ever going to do with this much space?’” he said. “Now, I wish I had more space.”
Farmers to singers
Bruce serves customers’ automotive, industrial, agricultural, and recreational needs whether they’re farmers, corporations, or even the occasional country singer.
“My biggest brush with fame was with Alan Jackson,” he said. “He doesn’t know it, but I fixed the generator on one of his boats.”
Now, Bruce can’t help but smile when he hears the line “It was just an old plywood boat” from Jackson’s song “Drive.”
Antique boats, cars, and farm equipment are a large portion of Bruce’s business.
“I’ve done it for so long that, the older stuff, I could really do blindfolded,” he said.
Bruce is no novice when it comes to new equipment, either.
“I do a lot of reading, and I also learn through the Electrical Rebuilders Association conferences,” he said.
Even the trickiest jobs are no match for his expertise like the time a man from Minneapolis needed a new starter for his 1920 Essex car.
“He had been looking for two years, and wasn’t able to find a starter, or anyone who could help,” Bruce said. “This was a really rare car.”
Eventually, the man brought the vehicle to Bruce, who knew just what to do.
“I ended up taking starter parts from a Farmall tractor and a Chevy car, and combining them with the original starter parts,” Bruce said. “He was just so happy.”
Throughout the years, Bruce’s enthusiasm wore off on his family.
“All three of my kids could take apart an alternator and reassemble it before they were in kindergarten,” he said.
His oldest, Steven, 25, now works with handicapped adults and is running for the Senate District 18 seat. Nina, 24, is in medical school with plans to become a doctor; and Kevin, 21, is pursuing a degree in physics or math.
At the shop, Bruce has two employees Tim Gustafson and Chris Probert.
“There’s no school that teaches this type of work I always train people myself,” Bruce said.