Bonita Springs — Sometimes a talent surfaces early in childhood. For one youngster, he enjoyed taking everything apart and putting it back together again since he was about six years old, often fixing whatever it was with one exception.
“I was very young and disassembled my mother’s expensive tape recorder to see how it worked” said Chris Lingenfelter. “Let’s just say I had a few extra parts after I re-assembled it, and a disgruntled mother.”
Lingenfelter, owner of Vacuum Depot next to Publix on Bonita Beach Road, is the youngest in a family of six born in Michigan.
“I successfully took apart and repaired my mother’s Kirby many times. When I was 15, my brother pointed out a help wanted sign in a store looking for someone to fix Kirby’s. ‘Hey, that’s you!’ he said.’”
Ever since then he’s been selling and servicing vacuums and eventually owned his own vacuum stores in Michigan, the last one in Lake Orion, Mich. two years ago.
“There probably isn’t a vacuum made that I haven’t either sold or repaired,” Lingenfelter said.
Seeking a change from the long cold and grey winters of Michigan and better economic conditions, he came upon a “Vacuum Depot for Sale” ad in a trade magazine.
“Within days, I was packed, in Florida and in business,” Lingenfelter said. “June provided a hot welcome!”
He likes boating, fishing, the beach, the sunsets and the many activities available in Bonita Springs sunshine. Business is brisk. Lingenfelter specializes in U.S. made vacuums, but carries quality products from other countries as well. He explained that familiar U.S. vacuum names that sold in the U.S. for almost a hundred years are now made by Chinese owned manufacturers in China.
“You think you have a U.S. quality made vacuum, but it’s probably not.”
As a vacuum specialist, he knows that a familiar brand does not always deliver the expected machine.
With his years in the business, he can advise customers as to the quality of the vacuums he sells. A quality vacuum is critical to a home’s air quality.
“I’m competitive with department store and internet prices on all brands of vacuums,” Lingenfelter said.
“However, I offer expertise not readily available in big box stores because I know vacuums inside and out. I help customers determine the vacuum that best suits their needs.”
He also carries higher quality brands and commercial vacuums not available in big box stores and he services everything that he sells.”
It’s often said that life is circular. Lingenfelter and his technician Sean Lane attest to that. Sean worked with Lingenfelter in Michigan in the 80s until the early 90s.
For Sean, life took him on a trip through love, travel and a broken engagement that included stops in South Carolina and Florida. When he learned that Lingenfelter was in Bonita Springs, he gave him a call and the circle was complete. Sean has been working in the store for five months.
Plans for the future include expansion and the possibility of additional locations.
“I service everything — all makes and models,” Lingenfelter said. “Well, maybe not robots — I call them a dust buster with wheels; they don’t take the place of a vacuum cleaner with a powerful motor and a filtering system.”
He’s a specialist who can appreciate a quality product.