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Oct 15, 2018







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Philip D’Avanza
Tower Clock Repairer

06/06/18



 Can you explain what your current job is?

I repair and restore historic hour clocks in New England, mainly in Massachusetts and New Hampshire but also in Connecticut, Maine and Vermont. Each project varies depending on the structure and ownership. You might have a municipal clock which is in a church or a private building, for example. [There are] also different sources of funding depending on who owns the clock, [like] grants or private donations. 
 
How long have you worked there?
I’ve been doing general clock repair as a business since 1977, but I started doing tower clock repairs in 1991. I had a friend and client who was a clock collector, and he stopped in to ask me if I’d fix the clock in his church, the First Parish Church in Derry. He said, “It’s just like the grandfather clocks you usually work on, except bigger.” I went down to take a look, and the next thing I knew, I was bringing parts of it back to my shop for repairs.
 
How did you get interested in this field?
I was helping an old business partner work on an unfinished house he’d just bought, and I found an old broken clock that I took home to see if I could get it fixed. I went to a lot of different repair shops who said it was too old to fix and the parts would either be unavailable or too expensive. I decided I’d just fix it myself, so I made up some pieces, put the clock together and it still works to this day. 
 
What kind of education or training did you need for this job?
I was originally a tool and die maker by trade, so I went through a four-year apprenticeship to train for that. I also have an associate’s degree in business administration.
 
How did you find your current job?
My business used to be 90 percent sales and 10 percent repairs. I would travel and buy antique clocks to fix and resell. I moved up here and opened up shop, and my focus slowly began to change over time.
 
What’s the best piece of work-related advice anyone’s ever given you?
“Take care of yourself. No one is ever going to take care of you.”
 
 
What do you wish you’d known at the beginning of your career?
Many things: You never know what’s going to come your way. I guess I wish I knew a lot of the people then that I know now and developed those relationships earlier on in life.
 
What is your typical at-work uniform?
Whatever’s comfortable for the weather and makes sense for the project. If I’m working outside, you might look at me and think I’m part of a construction crew. Other times I might wear a shirt and tie. It all depends on where I’m going and who’s going to be there.
 
What was the first job you ever had?
I was a young boy, and I helped my neighbor’s father at his grocery stand at the Essex Street Market in New York City. We used to go down to the docks at 4 a.m. to pick up produce to sell that day. 
— Scott Murphy 





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