Vacuuming never gets old. Certainly not at Aerus Electrolux, located at 62-71 Woodhaven Blvd. The vacuum repair shop in Rego Park is not just any fix-it-up business — it has been around 90 years, ever since 1924.
The current owner is passionate about providing service throughout the metropolitan area, with the exception of the Bronx and Staten Island. Eki Aguebor, who declined to give his age but said he was younger than 50, sat behind his office desk wearing a pin-striped blazer and described the business, which he has been a part of for the last two decades.
Aguebor worked his way up the chain from entry-level employee to manager and then to owner of the franchise. He is proud that he has successfully owned and operated his store for the past 12 years.
Aguebor says he has about 16,000 customers in Queens, and another 14,000 who he services in Brooklyn. And his repair store services all vacuum models.
“This is what I live for,” Aguebor said, surrounded by vacuums in a room that was difficult to breathe in because of all the dust.
Originally from Nigeria, he is married and has two kids. He works late nights in order to support his family and pay the $3000 monthly rent for the repair store.
The shop is small and sits on a corner along a busy thoroughfare among other small shops. Plenty of customers stop by to get repairs, but Aguebor and two other technicians do a lot of home repairs and pickups, servicing the vacuums in-home when they can, but taking them back to the shop for a tune-up when need be.
Some people might wonder how a vacuum business could stay afloat for so long, since the country has just gone through the worst economic downturn in modern history, and the fact that this consumer society urges people to toss out older, outdated models and buy new products. But according to Aguebor, Aerus Electrolux vacuums are some of the best, long-lasting ones around. In fact, he has owned an Electolux vacuum himself for the past 20 years, and it’s still working.
Returning customers continue to buy vacuums and visit his shop.
Linda Tortora, 59, has been the secretary at the repair shop for the past four years. Tortora is responsible for cold-calling previous customers and scheduling appointments for sales representatives. Sometimes, visits are set up for the six-month free checkup, she says, that Aerus Electrolux offers their customers. And other times, it is house calls to pick up a broken machine that have to be fixed.
“People walk in, and if they’ve got a problem with their vacuum, I write-up the information,” Tortora said. “And when Eki comes in, I give it to him, and he calls them back.”
A typical issue is the accumulation of hair inside the motor, which can often be the result of vacuuming up animal hair, Tortora said.
Clientele come from all over, she added, but a lot of customers reside in Woodside and Glendale. She keeps all customer information in a file cabinet. And Tortora estimates that she makes “over and more” than 1000 appointments a year. But the most consistent calls Tortora gets are when the vacuums are broken, or for a free checkup.
Maya Shuster of 2400 Norstrand Ave. in Brooklyn called the shop because her mother’s vacuum was broken. Shuster spoke for her mother because she doesn’t speak English. “It’s my mom’s. It’s pretty old. It’s a good machine, good generator, but every small thing keeps falling apart, and she keeps replacing things.”
Aguebor left the shop to service Shuster’s vacuum and determine whether it just needed a new part or a complete overhaul. Another day, another dollar, another vacuum — and 90 years of service for Aerus Electrolux.