Third-generation clock man makes house calls
It was noon on a Monday and the magical, musical sound of chimes filled the air as the man and woman brought in their German-made cuckoo clock to Prime Time Clock Repair.
“It doesn’t chime, and the weight doesn’t work,” they told shop proprietor Jack Laninga.
They were expecting to leave it for repair. In less than two minutes, Laninga, who calls himself a third-generation clock man, had it running and chiming. This repair was as simple as moving a button.
Laninga didn’t charge the grateful woman for his “miracle” cure.
Prime Time, which has been in business since 1971, is located at 1 Old Courthouse Square in Crown Point, in the lower level of the historic Old Lake County Courthouse. Laninga says he loved the ambiance of the store’s location in the building, which is affectionately known as “The Grand Old Lady.”
Not only does Laninga repair clocks in the shop, he makes house calls.
“Our main business is clock repair and we can repair anything,” Laninga said. “We even manufacture our own parts when necessary.”
Laninga said some parts for older-model and antique clocks are no longer manufactured. He said one unusual request came from a customer whose cuckoo clock was being fixed. The customer asked Laninga not to repair its one unique feature—it chimed 13 times at 1 p.m. The chimes were accurate every other hour, Laninga said.
Larger clients include two museums in New York who ship their clocks to Prime Time for restoration, and the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago, where Laninga travels to make repairs.
Laninga, who learned the trade from his father and grandfather, as a youth repaired clocks weekly at Marshall Field and Co. in downtown Chicago. The skill is deeply rooted in Laninga’s family; his uncles, who since have retired, repaired clocks and his cousin repairs watches.
Prime Time sells cuckoo, grandfather, wall, table and refurbished antique clocks, some of which date to the 1800s. A recent acquisition includes a 1920s antique nursery rhyme clock. But Laninga’s favorite is a new grandfather clock that he describes as “stately.” It is modeled after a circa-1800 design.
Store hours for Prime Time, which can be reached at 219.661.9709, are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays. Their website is primetimeclocks.com.