Paul Manfredo realizes that, for many people, clocks are more than just objects. They are treasures, carrying memories of generations, events, people and lives. While so much in today’s world is disposable, family clocks are worthy to give, to keep and to cherish.
Unfortunately, these special clocks sometimes break and need expert attention to get them back in good operating condition. While clock repair is a fine skill that has been taught for generations, there are fewer people in the trade with each passing year. A qualified clock repair professional is a rarity in this day and age.
And that’s where Paul Manfredo of Paul’s Clock Repair, LLC comes in. He is a Certified Master Clockmaker and has been working at his trade for 54 years. Paul is one of the rarities.
It all started in 1968 when he bought his first clock at a flea market. He was fascinated with the inner workings. “I saw all of those gears and things, and knew what I wanted to do.”
When he got his discharge from the U.S. Army in that same year, he jumped right into the business. He went through extensive training with the National Clockmaker Institute to become a Certified Master Clockmaker. And he’s remained passionate about his work ever since.
“I believe God put me on the planet to repair clocks,” he says.
Paul repairs all types of antique and modern clocks, including grandfather clocks, cuckoo clocks, mantle clocks, key-wound clocks, schoolhouse clocks and many more.
He explains, “Each clock has its own story to tell, which is why we strive to preserve everything in its original state. Antique clocks are passed down through the generations and are a tangible part of family history. People buy special clocks on memorable trips or receive them as a gift to mark an event like a wedding or retirement.”
“We are well aware of the historical, sentimental and family heritage associated with each timepiece. Our customers know that their precious heirlooms are looked after with the utmost care.”
One customer, Brian, affirms that Paul has world-class knowledge and skill. “The work he did for me on my mother's antique mantle clock brought life back to what was once a piece of worn-out junk. Now, with renewed life, the precious heirloom will continue to be passed down to future generations.” And Paul does more than repair clocks. He doesn’t just return a working timepiece but helps to insure the future of the clock and its place in the family. After he has it back in working order, he describes the basics of the clock to the customer. He explains how it should be handled and maintained to give it the longest life possible.
He also repairs antique mechanical toys and rarities like Ansonia mystery clocks.
Nancy, another customer, explains that Paul repaired her 70-year-old German music box. “It actually brought tears to my eyes since I’d not heard it in decades.” Paul repaired and refurbished the music box in time for her grandson’s wedding, providing a meaningful gift.
“It will connect him with his great grandparents. What a treasure,” she says.
Although Paul started in the business alone, he doesn’t work solo anymore. As the business grew, it was obvious that he needed assistance in order to maintain his high-quality professional service. That is when his wife, Judy, began her apprenticeship, and eventually became a Certified Clock Repair Technician. Since 1990, she has been repairing clocks and is an integral part of the business.
“People call us the mom and pop of the clock shop,” Paul laughs. They’ve earned the title. The two of them, combined, have repaired over 19,000 clocks for satisfied customers.
Paul remembers many clocks and customers over the years. Elected officials, from mayors to the governor, have sought Paul and Judy’s services. Television personalities and sports figures have come to them for help. Those whom they’ve served become their biggest advocates and referrers of business.
Their mission remains to repair and maintain the treasure and legacy of clocks for the next generation.
Paul often wonders what will happen in the future. He knows he’s part of a dying breed.
Being a veteran himself, he has a heart for disabled veterans and believes that clock repair could be a valuable trade for them. His vision is to train veterans who have lost limbs or might be in a wheelchair to learn the skill of clock repair. It would provide productivity and an income for the veteran. And the art of clock repair would be passed along to another generation.
Paul purchased the rights to the National Clockmakers Institute from the previous owner, and is now President and CEO. He was equipped and ready to teach the trade, at no cost, to veterans, but encountered a huge stumbling block.
In order to begin the process, he would need to get accreditation for the Institute from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. That would mean an extensive outlay of cash, outlining the curriculum to a board for review and presenting his classroom accommodations, which would need to be at code. And that’s just a beginning of the requirements.
Paul doesn’t have the resources to do that. He just wants to teach veterans a trade, at no cost to them. He has the materials, the knowledge and skills, and knows how to mentor students through an apprenticeship program. Unfortunately, the world doesn’t work that way anymore, and he sees no way to make that vision come true.
Maybe someday, there will be a way for Paul to teach clock repair.
In the meantime, he is turning 75 this year and is overwhelmed with more work than he and Judy can handle. So the two of them stretch their schedules and take care of clocks that hold a place in the heart of their owners.
And the customers of Paul’s Clock Repair appreciate the skills of the mom and pop who serve them in the clock shop.
God is a meticulous clockmaker. So precise is His order that everything on earth happens in its own time. Neither a minute late nor a minute early. And for everyone without exception, the clock works accurately. -- Elif Safak (novelist)
For more information go to www.paulsclockrepairpittsburghpa.com.