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Muscatine clock business keeping up with changing times

It’s a family trade that dates back generations and, while time might be ticking on the craft of clock repair, a local family is dialed in with its past.

Time doesn’t stop, let alone stand still. You can see and hear the proof at Butterworth’s Clocks in Muscatine, Iowa. If you could rewind time, you would see where Butterworth’s history began.

“My family immigrated from England and my father, grandfather worked the trade here in the united States,” said Mark Butterworth, owner.

The family trade goes back to 1725, mostly repairing watches back then. However if time could fast-forward, they would learn that trade would become almost extinct.

“We thought the future of the watchmaker was dead with the new Timex watches,” said Mark.

Mark turned his focus to repairing clocks.

“Business is very good for us. I cannot complain,” said Mark.

Just like watches, people are slowly finding less and less use for clocks.

“It’s no longer something one need of these clocks to know what time it is. You got cell phones. You got five different kinds of digital clocks around the house,” said Mark.

So you have to keep up with the time. Mark created a ball bearing for clocks; a part that reduces friction. He got his idea patented and sells it all over the world.

“We do have clientele in Australia, New Zealand, Tasmania, we ship to Belgium, to South Africa,” said Mark.

Mark still repairs clocks, too, a family tradition that he says time can’t erase.

“There will be demand for it and, you know, it may not be the demand it was 30 years ago or whatever, but there’s always going to be a demand,” said Mark.

At 67 years old, Mark says he doesn’t plan to walk away from the family business anytime soon.  When that time doees come, Mark says there will be someone to keep the tradition going.

 

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