Leo’s way

img_5135 Leo’s Way Auto Repairs, Melbourne, Australia. Image: Su Leslie 2019

As I walked past this garage one day, there were two men standing just inside the door. One was wearing overalls, and it was his voice I heard.

I don’t claim this is a verbatim recollection of his words — but it’s pretty close.

“Yeah, I could do it cheaper, but I couldn’t do a good job. I’d have to compromise: on parts, on our time. And that’s not the way I work.”

I would love to have heard the other man’s response (I assumed he was a potential customer). But the doorway wasn’t that wide and I’d have looked really conspicuous stopping to eavesdrop. So I carried on, thinking about those words.

A couple of days later, I walked past again, but on the other side of the street. That’s when I noticed the sign — Leo’s Way.

I know a lot of small business people. I used to be one. It’s a tough way to make a living and there is an almost constant pressure to lower one’s prices. Mass-produced goods — especially those made in countries where costs can be kept very low — have created a culture of price over value. A throwaway world where it’s made easy to buy cheap and replace often. Where skill and experience, craftsmanship and quality are downplayed and punished.

The terrible environmental and social costs of such mindless consumption are becoming clear — at least to some of us. One way or another, things must change.

One day, the world will wake up and realise how much we need craftsmen like Leo. I hope there are some left.

40 thoughts on “Leo’s way

  1. I agree with you 100%. I would rather pay a little more if the product I buy is of better quality. But when an identical product cost 10 times more than an item I can buy online from China, then we need to protest and not buy locally. My wife needed a replacement battery for her camera.She was quoted $65. I ordered the very same item for $5 from China shipping included. Alas, this is true for so many things we buy these days. This incident is not related to your excellent post, Su, but I thought it worthwhile mentioning. Greetings from summery Canada!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks Peter. I understand your situation with the battery — that is such a huge price difference.
      In situations like that, I always feel I should ask the retailer why their prices are so much higher. In some cases, it may be justified. I know of lots of cases where people have bought things online and then had no recourse when they were defective, or when they just stopped working.
      I guess you have to look at the pros and cons for every purchase.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. So true. Cutting corners helps no one—you may save up front, but then the product falls apart sooner or, worse yet, isn’t safe. And people never appreciate the efforts that go into any serious work—whether it’s a handiwork or professional work—unless they are in the same field.

    Liked by 1 person

    • That is absolutely true Amy.
      We have a toaster that is older than our son, and will probably outlive us. It is wholly mechanical and can be repaired (which the Big T has done several times). It was expensive at the time, but in the long run has saved us money and kept a lot of plastic and electronic waste out of the landfill.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Supporting local business is important and we try to do it whenever possible. As mentioned above, it’s not always feasible, but worth trying to do. Our mechanic is local and we had a local mechanic when we lived in Cleveland as well. I hope Leo does well and BTW, I really like the photo. It’s beautifully balanced and I like the colors.


    Liked by 1 person

    • I hope so. I guess if he can confidently resist the race to the bottom, then his income must be reasonably secure. I’ve watched several local businesses go under because they couldn’t fight against their largest client (the same company in each case) pressuring them to drop their prices.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Built in obselence in manufacturing, so that sales and turnover are more frequent than one more expensive purchase less often. Your post is so timely! We need to look at what we can do to improve longevity of all appliances and technology. The system however, is geared to ever increasing profits in a FINITE world. Therein lies the problem. The reckoning will be harsh. How to convince everyone of this is the greatest challenge of all.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. We definitely need more craftsmen like Leo! It’s such a shame that people have this price over quality attitude these days. I see it often with shoes for example – lots of poor people around here buy those horrible cheap shoes that will last for about 3 months and then buy new ones instead of buying more quality shoes that will last a couple of years. It’s the same with clothes and furniture. 😯

    Liked by 1 person

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