Steve Rouse, the new owner of a longtime small engine repair business in Houlton, now named Steve and Sons Small Engine Service. Credit: Kathleen Phalen Tomaselli / Houlton Pioneer Times

HOULTON, Maine — After 37 years of fixing area lawnmowers, snowmobiles, sleds and most any other small engine, Peter Ledger turned over the keys this week to new owners Steve and Tory Rouse.

Both men are leaving decades-long careers to chase new dreams. Ledger, who started Sport Vehicles and Small Engine Repair from scratch 37 years ago, is semi-retiring and moving to Chatsworth, Georgia, to be with his wife, children, grandbaby and enjoy life a little bit more. Rouse, who spent 32 years logging in the forest, always wanted to do small engine repair full-time.

“It’s always been a dream of mine,” Steve Rouse said.

For the next few weeks, Ledger and Rouse will work together in the Bangor Street shop to get comfortable in their new roles.

Steve Rouse (left) just purchased a small engine repair business from Peter Ledger (far right). Rouse’s Houlton business is Steve and Sons Small Engine Service. Co-owner Tory Rouse and Brody Rouse are also pictured. Credit: Kathleen Phalen Tomaselli / Houlton Pioneer Times)

“These guys have been so gracious to let me just stay and work my way out of it,” Ledger said, admitting that the reality of leaving hasn’t really hit him yet. “This business has been a passion for me my whole life.”

As a nod to less complicated times, the shop, now called Steve and Sons Small Engine Service, caters to the people in Southern Aroostook County in a style reminiscent of the 1950s, a time when shop owners took time to chat a little while fixing even the most simple of problems. A time when they’d take extra steps even for a $3 piece of special fuel liner or a unique bolt.

As Ledger says, “This small town needs this shop.”

Making engines run makes Rouse happy.

“When I get done, and it runs, and the customer is happy,” he said. “That’s what I want.”

Rouse found Ledger’s business for sale on Facebook Marketplace and after that, it fell into place easily, he said.

Thursday was his first day as the new owner and by late afternoon he was getting things in the garage organized for his own needs. Ledger sold the Rouses everything in the shop including the phone number.

“Everyone will still call that number, and it goes with the business,” Ledger said. “You have to keep that phone ringing.”

Rouse’s son Brody, 17, will work in the shop with his dad after school and just like Steve Rouse learned small engine repair from his dad, Brody will learn from him,

And Tory Rouse, who works at the Houlton Regional Hospital as a nurse practitioner, will help with the computerized inventory.

Much like Ledger, Rouse and sons will repair chainsaws, weed wackers, snow blowers, lawn mowers, ATVs, side-by-sides and most anything that has a small engine, Rouse said.

“I’m also going to repair outboard motors,” he said. “And we will also do service and preventative maintenance.”

In addition to repairs and service, there is a showroom packed with engine belts, some winter clothing and they plan to add gloves, hats and boots, Rouse said.

“Come give us a try,” he said.

Steve and Sons Small Engine Service is open 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Kathleen Phalen Tomaselli is a reporter covering the Houlton area. Over the years, she has covered crime, investigations, health, politics and local government, writing for the Washington Post, the LA...