What does a big hat collection, 500 tools, long standing friendships and an Oakland Park legacy have in common? Answer: Broward Tool Repair. You may have passed by the little shop on Dixie Highway a thousand times, and never looked twice. But inside the doors of Broward Tool Repair is a shop full of memories, including community histories, great story telling, laughter and a big sense of family.
I got the opportunity to interview the owner of this little shop, Dennis Buchta, before the holidays during his final week in business and just before he closed the doors for good. This family business opened in 1967 when Dennis’s dad “Eddie” Buchta took his customer service skills and knack for fixing things to create the business. Sons Dennis and Ken grew up in and out of the shop for years. After graduating college and selling construction tools for a living, Dennis joined the family business full time as a partner in 1977.
“They were good times. Tool repair is like solving a puzzle. Sometimes it could take hours and several of us would try to figure out the best fix over a cup of coffee. We would have breakfast next door at Diane’s Diner (now closed) with the employees and many of our customers. We really created some great friendships along the way”.
Through the years Dennis and his wife started a family, and now have three adult children. The oldest son, Casey, lives in Milwaukee with his family. Second son, Wesley, and his family live in Biloxi, and their daughter Ashley and her husband are living in Pittsburgh. While their kids appreciate the family business, it wasn’t in their plans to take it over, and Dennis is ok with that.
One of the first things you notice walking into the shop is a collection of over 350 hats. This started in 1977 when a service man gave the late Eddie Buchta a hat to put on the wall. A few days later a competing company brought in their hat to be displayed. Then it became a thing. Over the years they have been given hats by companies, service men, kids, and community projects: “Every hat has a story, just like each of our customers”. Dennis hopes to give most of hats back to their owners or donate them to a good cause.
While talking, Terry, a construction worker and long-time customer came in to pick up a tool and share his best wishes. “When I first came here it was because of the proximity to my jobs, then I kept coming back because of the quality, and great customer service. These guys are old school and that’s part of what makes this place so great.”
A resident of Oakland Park since 1958, Dennis has been involved in many community projects, including The Oakland Park Kiwanis Club, Ronald Mc Donald House, Light of the World Clinic, as well as school and civic events. When I asked why he was closing the doors now, he said:
“I’m 69 years old, and my wife Cathy is just a bit younger than me. It’s time to retire and have more quality time with my family out of town. I will miss some of the daily interaction I’ve created here. The best part of the business has been talking to customers and knowing their stories, while being a part of this community and involved in my kids and family life along the way”, and he adds: “Since we opened our doors, we have tried our best to be a business of integrity and keeping our word. I guess it worked, because we made it this far. I want to thank everyone for their business, belief and faith in us to the end.”
Although the business closed officially December 31st , you may still catch Dennis in the month of January as he packs up the shop. The new owners of the building will take over February 1st . Anyone who has not picked up their tools should contact the shop as soon as possible. They can come in and pick up your tools and take the time to say goodbye to an Oakland Park legacy, Broward Tool Repair.
Kim is a South Florida native with a background in Non-Profit work, Special Events, Public Speaking, Community Outreach, and Development. Oakland Park has been her home for 20 years. She is a creative catalyst who enjoys creating win-win relationships on whatever project she puts her mind to. She is involved in Animal Rescue, Art events, C.E.R.T., and an American Red Cross volunteer. In her spare time, she does photography, writing and the outdoors.