In a cyber world, he connects with typewriters


By Jessica Mintz

Paul Schweitzer remembers being a kid, and inking and spooling typewriter ribbons in his basement in Brooklyn for his father’s typewriter repair business.

Today, Gramercy Office Equipment Co., located on the eighth floor of the Flatiron building, specializes in fixing Hewlett-Packard laser printers and faxes, modern-day machines that Schweitzer, now 65, has taught himself to fix mostly by reading the manuals. Still, for the few odd souls in New York who find romance or comfort in the deliberate work on an old manual typewriter, Schweitzer’s skills are still honed.

“I can do an easy 20, 25 typewriter repairs a week,” says Schweitzer, from “old manual typewriters to IBM Selectric to IBM Wheelwriters.” His office shelves are stacked high with boxes of parts, and his desk is filled with ledgers for the accounting he still does by hand; tucked away in corners and crannies are an assortment of typewriters from the ages, in various states of repair.

Schweitzer estimates that typewriters today make up about 25 percent of the business his father started in 1932. In 1959, at the age of 21, Schweitzer joined him, just — he thought — until he could decide what else to do.

“I’ve been happy all these years doing what I was doing. All these years, I’m one of these people who can’t wait to get to work the next day,” says Schweitzer, who is still thrilled by “the challenge of fixing it and seeing the satisfaction of our customers after we bring their old machines back to life.

“There are fewer and fewer people like myself who still know how to fix machines,” says Schweitzer. He says there’s still a place for typewriters in the modern-day office. “A lot of young people don’t think so, but I think so.”