Timely job change

AT WORK

A former Comcast official prefers to be fixing mechanical clocks

November 28, 2007|By NANCY JONES-BONBREST | NANCY JONES-BONBREST,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

Brian Cormier

Horologist

Millennium Time, Hereford

Salary: --$40,000

Age: --50

Years on the job: --1.5 years

How he got started: --Cormier worked for about 25 years in purchasing. Most recently he held the position of director of purchasing for Comcast. In 2003, he decided he wanted a career change and left the industry. While he was looking for his next profession, he began taking clock-repair classes at the National Association of Watch and Clock Collectors School of Horology in Pennsylvania. By about the third class, Cormier knew he wanted to pursue a career in horology, or the science of time and timekeeping.

Typical day: --Millennium Time, in the Hereford Antique Emporium, is open Monday through Friday. Cormier is usually at the shop repairing and cleaning clocks. But he will make house calls to work on larger timepieces. Although the repair depends on the complexity of the clock, Cormier said it typically takes four or five hours to complete. His workload varies with as many as 10 clocks being brought in during a busy week and as few as one or two clocks during a slow week.

The repair: --Mechanical clocks usually fall into three categories: those that tell time; those that tell time and strike the hour; and those that tell time, strike the hour and chime every 15 minutes. For a typical repair made to a time-and-strike clock, he charges $265.

To repair a clock, Cormier takes it apart and thoroughly cleans it. This includes the gears and plates. He also polishes the pivots. Any broken parts would be replaced or fixed. Many times, a clock that has stopped working just needs a thorough cleaning to get going again. When dealing with antique clocks, Cormier sometimes has to build replacement parts.

The trade of clock making: --Cormier said he researched the profession before jumping into it. He said that while there are not many mechanical clocks sold these days, most of the people who repair them are retiring. "There are still a lot of antique clocks out there, and the number of people doing repairs is dwindling."

Won't work on: --Antique clocks with wooden gears and electric clocks. He has not been trained on either.

Cuckoo clocks: --Cormier said he will repair cuckoo clocks, but they are not his favorite. The clocks are different from regular mechanical clocks because time is spent adjusting wires rather than working on the clock movement.

Career change: --"Clock repair is less lucrative, but in so many other ways it's so much better that I don't regret it a bit."

The good: --"A sense of accomplishment. You're bringing a clock back to life."

The bad: --"Sometimes it's difficult. You work on a clock for a long time, put it back together and it doesn't work. It can be very time-consuming."

Nancy Jones-Bonbrest Special to The Sun

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