WEST BURLINGTON — George's Lawn Mower has been in business for nearly 70 years. Started in 1951 by George Munzenmyer, this Burlington fixture has withstood the test of time.


George’s has an interesting and storied past, passed along from one illustrious owner to the next, expanding product lines and moving locations, all the while retaining George's namesake.


Kathy Wunderlich, the current owner of George's, laughs about how the name has stuck.


“In the 70 years that George’s has been around, the original George was the only George that has actually owned George’s,” said Wunderlich, chuckling.


George’s got its start on the south side of town, where Munzenmyer owned and operated the shop for about 15 years. Then in 1966, Leroy and Sandie Bickel (founders of Bickel's, Inc.) came on the scene.


“Sandie had sent her husband on a mission to buy a push mower,” said Wunderlich. “He went to go buy one for her, and ended up buying the whole place.”


Leroy and Sandie built up George’s quickly, selling lawn mowers and outdoor equipment, as well as bicycles and bicycle parts. But, with the uptick in business, neighbors soon began to complain about the increased traffic. So the shop moved to a spot on Roosevelt Avenue, and then to Kirkwood Street in 1972.


The Bickels owned and operated George’s until 1977, when Leroy decided selling lawn mowers and bicycles was getting to be too much. At that point, he sold the lawn mower portion of the business to Ed Schrock of Schrock Lumber Co., Schrock’s brother and Richard Bangert, who owned the business for a year. After that, Bill Schwinn bought George’s and owned it for nine years, passing it along to Jim Boyles and his son, Greg, in 1986.


Greg then owned and operated the shop for an impressive 20 years, finally putting it up for sale in the Hawk Eye’s ‘HAPPENING NOW’ section, where it caught the attention of Wunderlich’s husband. Wunderlich, who has a background in the building trade (not, the world of lawn mowers or mechanics, she emphasized humorously), was looking for a new opportunity when the ad appeared.


“My husband saw the ad in the newspaper and said to me straight away, ’Well here’s something you could do!' I didn’t have a mechanic background, but I went and talked to the owners anyway and ended up buying the business.”


In her 14 years as the owner of George’s, Wunderlich has grown the business beyond what she could have imagined. The shop, in its location on East Agency Road, carries more than a dozen brands, including Briggs and Stratton, Echo, Dolmar, Toro, Snapper, Country Clipper, Weed Eater, Generac and more. The service center fixes and repairs any make or model of lawn mower, small engine and outdoor equipment, and they stock snow blowers, chain saws and generators. The shop has eight employees.


“One of the most interesting things to me is that the shop has never been ’passed down’ or passed along through family,” said Wunderlich. “It has changed hands based on the fact that it’s a good store with genuinely talented mechanics, and that it’s community-oriented. That’s certainly a big aspect of it for me — I try to be involved in the community as much as I can as a small business.”


It also is interesting to note how much George’s has changed and expanded since its humble beginnings. Of course, with technology evolving so rapidly and significantly, some changes were, and are, inevitable.


“We used to have fuel-powered carbureted engines; now we use electronic fuel injection (EFI) systems and more battery-operated components,” said Wunderlich. “The industry is definitely shifting. A lot of mowers, trimmers and other handheld equipment are moving to lithium batteries because they’re so much more powerful. There are also just fancier components available these days, like LED lights for the equipment, things like that. All the bells and whistles.”


Nowadays, a lot of processes are connected and run by computers. Tools are more sophisticated and more complex, requiring a whole new level of specialization. Because of this, Wunderlich speculated carbureted units on riding mowers, for example, soon may become a thing of the past.


According to Wunderlich, the biggest takeaway, and secret to George’s longevity, is that you have to be able to adapt and change.


“When I bought the place 14 years ago, at that time, you had to look up parts on microfiche,” said Wunderlich with a wry laugh. “That certainly would not fly today … We would not still be in business. We have come a long way because of that need to adapt. Now, everything is digital, and almost every aspect of the business side of things relies on computers. That said, people still want and need to rely on our expertise — that is something that hasn’t changed at all.”