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Someone You Should Know: Sioux Falls business still going strong after three generations

Published: Jul. 8, 2020 at 4:00 PM CDT
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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - According to Harvard Business Review, less than 1/3 of family-owned businesses in the United States make it to the second generation before they fail or sell. One Sioux Falls business has defied the odds for three generations. Chic Pyper is now the owner of Fred the Fixer.

"It would be nice to retire, but there again it's kind of hard to lose the family succession," she said.

Her grandpa, Fred Burkey, opened it as Power City Repair in Downtown Sioux Falls in 1911. At that time, he repaired bikes and boilers and was a gun smith by trade.

"It always fascinated me that he could take something, figure out how to make it into something else and it was just fun to watch. However, my grandpa didn't want me to do anything except sweep the floor, dust the bicycles and answer the phone because girls weren't supposed to do that kind of thing," Chic said. "So when my grandpa wasn't there, my dad would pull me back to his bench and say okay, today we're going to learn how to take this lock apart."

She started hanging around the shop when she was 10 years old. Seven years later, she started working full time because her grandpa got sick, and her dad needed the help.

"He was very open to the fact that a girl can do anything a man can do," Chic said.

At this time, the shop focused on locksmith services, which is what it offers today. That was right around the same time she married her husband, David. He started working at Fred the Fixer in 1979, four years after they got married.

"I'll have to say, I think we give excellent customer care. We're really good to our customers. They appreciate what we do for them. They trust us," David said.

That's part of the reason this business has lasted through several different locations in Sioux Falls and three generations.

"I read an article on small family businesses and the gist of the article was a small family business needs to be treated as a member of the family," Chic said. "So you're going to take that small family business on vacation with you. You're going to have it at the dinner table. You know, it's just going to be a part of your family, which it really has become."

And that’s why it’s so hard to retire. David and Chic have four boys. One of them works for the family business, but Chic said she doesn’t know if he’s interested in taking the shop on by himself.

If there is someone you think we should all know, please email a nomination to news@dakotanewsnow.com.

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