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No Easy Task

New Business Overcomes COVID Challenges

Nick Kubiszyn poses in his business with a lawnmower , just one of the many different types of equipment available for sale or rent at Universal Engine. P-J photo by Nikk Holland

Opening a new business under ideal circumstances can be a challenging task. Doing so at the onset of a pandemic can be downright difficult.

That is exactly what Nick Kubiszyn, owner of Universal Engine on 2950 North Main St. Ext. near Jamestown, did last year. He shared some of the past and current hurdles of his business undertaking along with some trends he noticed after one year of experience within the pandemic.

Universal Engine handles and carries “a little bit of everything,” Kubiszyn said, including sales, renting and repairs of lawn mowers, Big Tex trailers, and also many Toro and Husqvarna outdoor landscaping equipment like snowblowers and chainsaws for homeowners of all calibers.

Kubiszyn said he “caters to everybody,” with his clientele including a mix of different ages and types of people ranging from young men and women in their 20s to the older homeowner population in the area.

Universal Engine was originally located in the Buffalo area and expanded to Jamestown in March of last year when the pandemic in the United States began. When other businesses were forced to close due to mandatory lockdowns, Universal Engine remained open because it is considered an essential business due to its contract with the train industry.

The grand opening of Universal Engine amid an international pandemic was not what Kubiszyn expected, and he admittedly had to jump over some hurdles to get his business up and operating.

Not being from the area and not knowing the people of Chautauqua County coupled with the start of COVID lock downs provided a sense of uncertainty for Kubiszyn’s business.

After a year of weathering the COVID storm, he has noticed an uptick in the volume of customers. He attributes this to an overall sense of understanding the pandemic with things like new guidelines and mandates that informed people coupled with the rolling out of vaccines for some portions of the public which has made them comfortable to do things like shop.

With travel still restricted to some parts of the world people have begun to look inward at their homes to fill free time that may have been spent outside of the home prior to last spring. Some homeowners have time and money to put towards home or landscape renovations and improvements given the stimulus packages and the inability to partake in out-of-the-home activities. Kubiszyn believes the increase in volume of customers is the result of this.

Regarding the pandemic, Kubiszyn said he believes that people may be more conscious of their funds since many lost their jobs and sources of income last spring. For the future he hopes to continue expanding his business by bringing his Buffalo inventory to his Jamestown location such as the big tractor rentals and bring in more lines of equipment to sell and rent.

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