WAYNESBORO—Ben Calimer’s first-grade teacher predicted he was most likely to own his own business someday.
More than 30 years later, that missive has become a reality. Calimer, who still has the note in a scrapbook, is carrying on the self-employed tradition that began generations ago on both sides of his family.
Calimer purchased the former Record Herald building at 30 Walnut St. in Waynesboro, where his business, Calimer’s Transmissions, will relocate in the next couple of months from its location on North Street since 2015.
The Waynesboro Area Senior High School graduate has come full circle, starting as a graphic artist building ads for the newspaper after he graduated from Hagerstown Community College in 2005. Calimer left the Record Herald for a few months to work in lawn care, and then returned as a pressroom employee until he started the transmission business.
“I’ve always been into anything mechanical, working over the years on random different things. Then I got vehicles of my own – modifying, and making them more powerful, etc.” Calimer began his foray into the business by working on old cars with his grandfather, the late Bob Calimer, a blacksmith.
His quest to consider starting a business of his own followed the purchase of a 2012 Mustang. “I had problems with the transmission and didn’t have a whole lot of money at the time to spend on parts. I had a friend at a machine shop who was capable of making some upgraded parts for me. So that’s when it started.” Calimer began buying broken transmissions off Facebook, rebuilding and then reselling them. “Once people started getting the word about me, they wanted to send me their transmissions. I’ve been doing it ever since.”
Calimer’s Transmissions mainly specializes in Mustangs from 2011 to today, he said. “That’s our main bread and butter, but we do all brands of muscle cars – Dodge, Ford and Chevrolet – transmissions for people all over the world. We’ve sent them to Switzerland, Germany, Australia, United Arab Emirates, Dubais – all over the place, and we have customers in all 50 states.”
His staff of four full time employees will increase once the business moves. “And we’ll add more equipment to make more products for transmissions we rebuild.” His Dad, Bill, stops by every day, to help out. “He has his own shop at 30 E. North St. and still makes wheels for antique vehicles.
“We make our own parts. We can make just about anything using our CNC (computer numerical controlled) machine. We only have one, but plan to get two more.” Calimer said one of his employees uses an auto cad to draw the part and transfer it to the computer in the CNC machine and the machine makes the part. It’s computer-controlled but there are still many things that have to be set up manually. We do so many jobs, making all of our parts except for gears.”
Calimer’s biggest challenge now is getting parts in a timely manner. “Because of COVID and supply chain issues, everything got so backed up. We use high grade steel, and want to get the best and most durable supplies for our work.”
Calimer said there were limited options in his search to move and expand the business. “There really wasn’t much in the area as far as commercial. We didn’t need anything huge and knowing this building because of the amount of years spent here,” Calimer moved forward with the purchase. “It definitely has some sentimental feeling. The building has run down over the last several years. It will be nice to fix it up and make it suitable for a different purpose.”
Calimer is now tasked with cleaning out the building. In addition, “we’re rewiring the panel boxes that need upgraded, cleaning out certain walls and partitions that had been put up, fixing small things that need to be fixed. Then, we’ll move to the outside.”
The press was removed and because of its age and needed repairs, was of no value to anyone, according to Calimer.
Record Herald memorabilia, including photos and old newspapers, were collected in the hope that they may be showcased in a room in the building, he added.
Customers will access the business at the rear of the building where the loading dock is located. “I don’t know what we’re going to do with the upstairs. We may have a retail space with our products that we sell online now through our website, calimertransmissions.com “People come from halfway across the country to meet and talk with us, so if we do that, they can see them. The possibilities are endless as far as expansion.”
Calimer’s wife, Ginger, will move her office from their home to Walnut Street. And their children, Skyler, 9, and Haliee, 4, are already showing signs of following in their footsteps. “Skyler is definitely very into mechanical things and crafts. He’s always trying to build something. I can see it coming. Haliee is into cars, a lot. I have a 1982 Ford Fairmont. She always talks about ‘the yellow car.’ She loves it.”
“I never thought I’d be back here (on Walnut Street) … in this building with my business,” he reflected.