Story last updated at 8:25 PM on Wednesday, July 22, 2009

'Boog' launches own business

At proverbial fork in road, Homer mechanic sets new course for self

By McKibben Jackinsky
Staff writer

If you're looking for Boog, look no more. With an 11-year history of making Homer's automobiles run smoothly and a following of fans that searches him out, Brant Torsen, known as Boog, has opened Boogs Automotive in the Kachemak Boat Yard at 2443 Kachemak Drive, No. 3.

The news is welcomed by Boog's many clients, among them Kemper Sackman, who is responsible for the first dollar bill displayed on Torsen's wall.


 

Photographer: McKibben Jackinsky, Homer News

Doris and Brant "Boog" Torsen take time out for a photo in their new shop, Boogs Automotive, located at 2443 Kachemak Drive

"I'll tell you what. He's one of the best mechanics I've ever met," said Sackman, who drives a 2005 Nissan. "He's super honest, does a great job and he goes out of his way to work with you on timing and quality of his work, and making you happy about what he does for you."

Davis and Betsy Webb also are happy with Torsen's decision to go into business for himself. Several years ago, Torsen helped Davis Webb rebuild a 1915 Model T. He also has worked on the family's other vehicles and this winter Torsen and Davis are planning to do more work on the Model T.

"He's awesome," Betsy Webb said of Torsen. "He's very hard working, diligent, really an awesome all-purpose mechanic."

Raised in southern Oregon, Torsen grew up with grease on his fingers and a wrench in his hands. His knack for building and dismantling anything mechanical was evident during his youth when he built his own go-kart.

A self-described "drag-racing fanatic," Torsen's first job was working at a drag strip. Beginning in his late teens, he traveled with a team of alcohol-powered funny cars, progressed to jet-powered funny cars and was part of the team that introduced drag racing to Mexico.

"We traveled all of the United States, Canada and Mexico on and off for five years," Torsen said.

Eventually, one race course began looking the same as the next and Torsen decided it was time to try something different. Long story short, he found himself in Homer, working as a deck hand with his dad, Ron, aboard the Helenka B, hauling freight.

Automotive work wasn't about to let Torsen go, however. He eventually went to work for Kachemak Automotive, followed by several years at Automotive Collision Experts. For a while, during slow times, he picked up extra work at Precision Auto. And for two years he worked at East Road Motors.

Seven weeks ago circumstances changed and Torsen found himself at the proverbial fork in the road, in need of work.

"Here, with the economy falling apart, do I go to work for someone else or for myself? I had to answer that question," Torsen said.

The answer: launching Boogs Automotive.

"I think I made the right choice," he said.

With only a toolbox for starters -- albeit a large toolbox -- Torsen rented a 1,500-square-foot space from Mike Alred and began settling in. Prioritizing the tasks needed to get a business off the ground hasn't been easy.

"All I had were these four empty walls," Torsen said of the starting point.

There was more equipment and tools to order. A lift to install. An office to frame in. A computer to program to fit the business needs. Between Torsen, his wife, Doris, and some volunteer labor, it's coming together. Workdays lasting 15-18 hours aren't rare. Bringing the couple's 12-year-old daughter, Breeanna, to the shop, is a way for family to have some together time. And business is lining up at his door and finding him on the phone.

"He does a lot of phone diagnosis," Doris Torsen said, laughing. "People call and say, 'My car makes this noise. What's wrong with it?' And so many people call and just say, 'We're looking for Boog. Where's Boog at?'"

What Torsen offers the community is "honest automotive repair. And continuous. I don't want to quit. I don't want to retire. I'm here because I have a gift and I want to share it with others," he said.

Make of car doesn't matter. Automobiles or pickups; motorhomes or boats. The line-up outside his door currently means work is scheduled about four days out.

Plans for the future include expanding into the neighboring space so there will be room for two vehicles. Torsen's brother, Mark, who is currently charter fishing in Southeast Alaska, will join the business once fishing season is over.

Although Torsen admits there is still a design or two for a race car inside his head, Homer is where he plans to stay.

"I have a family and a business now," he said. "And this community is awesome. It's where a handshake is still a handshake."

McKibben Jackinsky can be reached at mckibben.jackinsky.@homernews.com.

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