‘Business wasn’t what it used to be’
By Stefan Yablonski
Since 1959, Roger Bristol has been ubiquitous at the Halsey Machinery Company in Mexico.
Bristol started as a part-time employee at the Halsey’s Machinery more than 60 years ago.
“He worked here in the 1960s; I don’t have the exact year. He started as a mechanic and then he got into sales,” his daughter, Robin Ospelt, said.
In 1978, he bought the business from Bob and Bev Halsey; they had founded the company in the early 1950s.
How old was he when he started at Halsey’s?
“Gee I don’t really know. I can’t remember back that far,” he quipped. “I must have been around my 30s at that time. I call it my hobby.”
By no means was he thinking that he’d own the business some day, he added with a laugh.
“As time went on and I did more and learned more it was just meant to be I guess,” he said.
Bristol who celebrated his 84th birthday at the end of September has gone to work every single day in the last five or six decades.
“I have a lot of good memories; made a lot of good friends over the years,” he said. “A lot of memories — some are good and some are bad. But they are all there anyway.”
“When he took the business over, he sold Case equipment and serviced it, repaired it. He was a Case dealer up until ’89 or ’90,” daughter Ospelt said. “Then he started just buying and selling new and used equipment, what he wanted to get and work on. He’d service pretty much any tractor, any make.”
“I kind of did everything when I came to work here. I had been working in the parks department before,” she added. “As people came and left here, I helped my dad out with things. I’ll miss all the customers. We’ve made some good friends over the years — a lot of great relationships, you know. I think meeting the customers was the best part of the job. We met so many people over the years — working with everybody.”
Much of their business included supplying parts, including retail and servicing general construction equipment and agriculture machinery.
“On July 15 we sold our content, everything. We held an auction here and then the business was sold to a person in Long Island,” she said. “I don’t know, I don’t think it will continue as a business as it is. He really hasn’t said what he intends to do. Everything is still tentative It’s supposed to be a go — but we haven’t actually had a closing yet. The business is sold — but it’s not finalized yet. It’s between the lawyers now. Getting everything cleared up.”
Halsey’s had been operating profitably for all these years — but faced some challenges in the last few years, mainly due to online competition.
“Business wasn’t what it used to be; online cut into it and it’s tough to find help,” she added. “It’s the same old story trying to generate enough money to cover everything, taxes and everything.”
That area of West Main Street in Mexico has seen a lot of changes over the years.
The businesses that were around Halsey’s are gone.
“Things are changing, little by little. I remember when Eddie Nykaza built the grocery store [now Tops] just down the road — the late ‘60s,” Bristol said. “It’s a small village, but things come and go all the time.”
On the southwest corner a bank was built. On the southeast corner a gas station gave way to a post office. Across the road on the northeast corner another gas station is now a dentist’s office.
On the other side of the street buildings were razed to make room for fast food businesses and a gas station.
Other buildings on the opposite side were sacrificed to make room for the grocery store.
In spite of all the change, one business stood fast for more than six decades.
However, in July Halsey Machinery Co. Inc. succumbed.
Bristol said he doesn’t have any specific plans.
“I’m going to take retirement one day at a time — whatever comes along. Just going to take it easy and enjoy life; still visit with everybody,” he said. “Nothing special — but I hope it’s many days!”