Ace Business Machines owner
Rick Skibba with his eBay find. He left the typewriter in
the office and returned half an hour later to find his dad
had repaired it.
ALLIS - Click, click, click. The sound of a typewriter
is music to the ears of writers and nostalgia
1964, Edward Skibba started Ace Business Machines, Inc.
Edward was joined by his son, Rick in 1982. Now, 50
years later with Rick as owner, the West Allis business
sells and services typewriters, copiers, printers, fax
machines and other office equipment.
Skibba discussed how the typewriter has made a comeback.
For the younger generation, the coined phrase: the
comeback of the typewriter is a retro type of thing.
People are into the touch and sound of the typewriter.
The most comments I receive is that customers feel
something, not just a click. People feel the rewards of
tapping a lever and hearing a sound right away”, he
Authors like Stephen King, Danielle Steel, P.J.
O’Rourke, Cormac McCarthy and Tom Wolfe prefer the
typewriter over modern technology. They don’t consider
themselves Luddites; rather they feel this allows them
to connect more personally to their work.
are phone apps available that produce the sound and
appearance of using a typewriter. With all the new
gizmos and gadgets, why the desire for the past?
“People want the printed look. Typewriters don’t always
produce straight text. It adds character to what you are
typing,” Skibba said.
Manuals making a surge
Despite the availability of electronic typewriters, the
most popular typewriter Ace sells is the manual kind.
Skibba finds mostly teens and people in their early 20s
adding vintage typewriters to their wish lists.
“During Christmas we saw a lot of request for manual
typewriters. There was even a waiting list, we could
barely keep up,” he said.
Business Machines receives typewriters from throughout
Wisconsin, as well as from other states.
Repairs to a typewriter depend on shape and condition.
“Usually it takes an hour or so of labor. It depends on
if you need a part, something is broken, lubricant, or
ribbon replacement,” Skibba said.
issues involve the typewriter sitting around too much
and becoming gummy. What this means is buildup of dirt
and oil on the moving parts. With older vintage
typewriters, this can occur at the pivot point of the
strike arms. This causes the strike arms to move slowly
it is enticing to go to a thrift store or rummage sale
for typewriters, nostalgia buffs need to remember some
“Thrift stores don’t provide education. The purchase
may work or may not work,” Skibba said.”Many people will
find a part is so bad, or a typewriter is so rusted no
one can do anything.”
Business Machines has the repair knowledge. The company
does buy and sell, depending on the equipment and shape
it is in.
fix two a day. Two weeks ago I had 13 come in the door!”
Printers and copy machines are the next big movers, he
said, mostly for office use.
Golden anniversary, golden philosophy
50 years, Rick and Edward Skibba know how to run a
Skibba is now in his 80s and by no means planning on
slowing down. The elder Skibba has a mechanical mindset.
excellent at problem solving. He thinks of repairs as if
they are a puzzle,” the younger Skibba said about his
Skibba even dreams about repair work. If a repair job is
a bit tricky, he will insist on sleeping on it. It is
not uncommon the next day for him to appear and say, “I
dreamt of it and figured it out.”
laughed and said, “Who dreams about it? My dad loves
this business. To him it is a big hobby.”
funny story Skibba remembers is buying a vintage
typewriter on eBay and leaving it in the office while he
did an errand. He came back half an hour later to find
his father greeting him and saying, “Oh, I fixed that
typewriter you left.”
times and trends have evolved, one thing that remains is
the golden rule of business, Skibba said.
do the best what can to always leave the customer happy.
We give the best customer service by being knowledgeable
and ensuring people make educated purchases.”