While in high school in Ohio, Heather Hapner was also enrolled in the local art college and auditing a small engine repair class at a technical school. While learning side-by-side with her then fiancé, the instructor was so pleased with her performance in the class he allowed her to enroll. So, in one week, she graduated with a bachelor’s degree, received her high school diploma, and a certificate in small engine repair, in that order.
Utilizing many of the concepts used in art, she was a natural at engine repair, and it set the path for her career and life. In 1989, she and her husband moved to the southeast, where the season for lawnmower repair was much longer. While her husband worked at a busy repair shop, Heather landed a job as a graphic designer. After leaving work in the spring, she would roll up her sleeves and help him on evenings and weekends.
One Saturday during the spring, she was working in the repair shop and ended up helping a customer purchase a lawnmower. While she had no sales experience and no knowledge of the brand, she did know about engine and transmission as a mechanic, and she made the sale. With the store owner’s encouragement, she also began training as a salesperson. By knowing the machine’s mechanics, Heather could translate the technical terms into lay terms to help homeowners find the mower to fit their needs.
Hapner continued to work as a graphic artist with an agency in Atlanta, her designs were well received, and her client list grew. However, she felt time constraints, and the sheer volume of the work stifled her creativity. So she decided to change to lawnmower repair full-time and focus on her art on her timeline to enhance her creativity.
As her skills and recognition in the repair industry grew, so did her job description. Exmark and Stihl hired her to go to underperforming dealers to help train them and build the business or to help new businesses from the ground up. In 2012, she took a new job with Action Rental, which had just become a Stihl dealer, and relocated to Rome. Heather knew this was the right move when she visited and saw the business was located across the street from Rome High School. About a year and a half earlier, she had come to the rescue of the the equipment van for the RHS band. After leaving her repair shop in Marietta one Friday evening she came across the group which had engine trouble. While she was unable to make the repair on site, she hooked up the trailer and loaded up the personnel and made sure the half-time show would go on. After her efforts were greatly appreciated and she was named an honorary band mom. After moving to Rome, she decides to make it her home.
Action Rental, which had become Rome Equipment Rental, dissolved in 2021. Heather took the opportunity to start her own business, Heather’s Outdoor Power, which opened in February 2022. They carry the full lines of Exmark and Stihl and offer a full repair service. The company works with homeowners, landscape companies, arborists, and other professionals.
One unique service Heather’s Outdoor Power offers is a quick bay for priority service. It is open to anyone but is primarily used by professionals. Landscapers especially appreciate the use of the quick bay because it allows them to have simple maintenance repairs done without having to leave their equipment. These services might include oil changes, blade sharpening, belt replacement, or pulley replacement. In addition, there is a lounge area for the customer to relax while the repairs are completed
Customer service is paramount for Heather. When working with a customer, she learns about the customer’s needs, including what type of yard, size, obstacles, and other characteristics that could impact the effectiveness of the equipment. Her goal is to educate the customer on why the equipment costs what it does and the benefits of those features.
Hapner is a certified technician for Kohler, Kawasaki, Honda, Stihl, and Exmark. She is one of only approximately 1300 Gold Certified technicians for Stihl in the United States. She is certified to perform customer repairs, warranty repairs, and sales. The industry requires continuous education to maintain certifications.
Heather symbolizes her philosophy for life and business in her logo which features a wolf imposed on a full moon. She refers to her community as the Hapner Wolf Pack. Hapner is the family name, and she strives to represent honorably. The wolf represents her late brother who was a great source of encouragement for her to make her way as a business owner. The pack is all about the community, “Wolves live in and travel in packs. They need and rely on each other. I don’t think it is any different for humans. When someone comes into my store, they become a member of my pack. We need each other to operate and survive,” Hapner said.
Heather’s Outdoor Equipment is located at 90 Callahan Street. For more information, visit heathersoutdoorpower.com.