On the Clock: A jack of all trades

By now, Jack Frost must hate Mike Aragosa. “This is repair time,” Aragosa said recently, during a gl

Editor’s note: Today the Gazette begins a bi-weekly feature, “On The Clock,” profiling people at work in the Capital Region after spending one hour with them on the job.

By now, Jack Frost must hate Mike Aragosa.

Big snow in driveways and thick ice on front steps are prominent parts of winter masterpieces. After every storm, Aragosa has answers for people who enjoy blowing and melting frosty artwork from their homes.

“This is repair time,” Aragosa said recently, during a gloomy Monday morning at Marty’s True Value hardware store on Van Vranken Avenue in Schenectady, where he works as commercial sales manager. “With all the heavy snow, we’ve got snowblowers coming in with bad belts, a lot of freeze-ups.”

“On the Clock”

Nominate a friend or co-worker for a profile by contacting Gazette reporter Jeff Wilkin at 395-3124 or at [email protected].

Marty’s has been a fixture in the city’s Goose Hill section since 1974, when Mike’s father Manny Aragosa opened his first store on the neighborhood’s main street. The Aragosa family and friends have sold wrenches, paint, flashlights and gas grills in three buildings. The gang moved into the current location at 1751 Van Vranken (the former Codino’s Italian Food Specialty processing center) in March 2000.

11 a.m.

“I’ve always had a job here, whether it was part time, full time, sometime or any time,” said Aragosa, 47, who is also a co-owner along with his father, brother Joe and sister Lynne. By 11 a.m., people have already been in for bags of rock salt and other winter aids.

“We got 18 pallets in on Friday,” Aragosa said of a delivery of “Qik Joe” ice-melting pellets — 50 50-pound bags on each wooden skid. “We’re down to five; we may have less than that. I’ve got another truckload coming in.”

By 11:10, Aragosa checks his staff. Six people are working the store’s 16 aisles during morning, afternoon and evening shifts.

“Ray, where are you?” he calls out to part-time employee Ray Nabibaksh. “Let me see some of those price changes. And go back out and scrape that driveway one more time. Get rid of that slush.”

Customers are in the store every few minutes. A woman buys a 20-pound bag of bird seed for $5.38. Windshield washer and lock de-icers are also moving, at $1.49 and $2.29, respectively. There are even lunch-sized packages of corn and barbecue chips.

Banged-up snowblowers

At twenty past the hour, a man pays a $191.67 repair bill for his snow blower. The job in the hardware store basement has included new belts and a cleaned-out carburetor. Fifteen minutes later, a guy wearing sunglasses, winter vest and blue jeans is also standing at Marty’s front counter.

“I came to bail out my snow blower,” he says.

“We’ll get it back to you later today,” Aragosa answers.

“Any idea when?” the guy wonders. “I’m going to be running around.”

“After lunch? One or 1:30?” Aragosa proposes.

“Later would be better,” the customers responds. “Closer to 4?”

Aragosa schedules a late afternoon delivery. Not all his winter sales involve products that clear ice and snow. Just after the sunglasses man leaves, a new customer needs two duplicate keys made.

“All seasons,” Aragosa said. “The busiest time is back to school. The kids don’t know where their keys are from last year.”

Paint, too. By 11:45, Aragosa is putting a mechanical shake into a plastic, 5-gallon container of white.

End of a busy hour

And just before noon, customer Dave Zotto needs better rubber liners around storm windows. The glass just doesn’t fit right.

“One minute to the next, we have to adjust,” Aragosa said, cutting and fitting the liners. “Sometimes, we’re dealing with salt, sometimes we’re dealing with windows. Most times, we’re just dealing with the public, trying to make everyone happy.”

Zotto is happy with his new window liners. And Aragosa.

“Jack of all trades, this man,” Zotto says.

Categories: Life and Arts

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