Ryan Kitka loves riding his dirt bike in the summer. In the winter, he switches to his snowmachine.
It’s a cycle he grew up with, learning along the way to keep his rides in running order. It was only natural that he combine his skills and hobbies and turn them into a business — Pacific ATV & Engine Repair.
Kitka started the business about two years ago after friends kept asking him to do general engine work on the weekends. Seeing the demand, he quit his full-time job and opened his own business.
Kitka has been working with mechanics for over 20 years. He got interested in the field when he was 12 years old and was working on projects with his dad.
“I learned from my dad,” he said. “He handed me a manual and tools and said, ‘Get to it,’ but he gave me advice here and there.”
Pacific ATV & Engine Repair works on anything with a small engine: ATVs, dirt bikes, chainsaws, jet skis, motorcycles, generators and lawn mowers.
While many residents enjoy playing on the waves, more than a few get their kicks on land.
“I mostly do four-wheelers,” Kitka said. “I get a lot of those. It’s mostly the older stuff that you can’t get parts for easily.”
The business is not a brand-specific repair shop, so Kitka will work on both name brand and off-brand motors.
“One of the things that is also unique about what he offers in addition to not being brand specific is that he’s not picky about parts,” said Kitka’s wife Tanya, who works as the bookkeeper for the business. “He’s OK with either people bringing in their own parts or he shops around and tries to get the best deal for them.”
Many Coast Guardsmen frequent the store, which offers a military discount.
Pacific ATV & Engine Repair moved to its new location at 1419 Mill Bay Road in early February. The new location has given the shop more visibility, parking and space.
“We started up kind of small in the harbor,” Tanya said. “Even there we were so tucked back in the corner hardly anyone knew we were there.”
The new location is double the old store’s size, which has allowed Kitka to spread out his tools. He is also able to house more projects and help more people.
“He doesn’t have to turn people away as much,” Tanya said.
Although Kitka does travel to do work at people's homes on occasion, he mostly works out of his shop.
Being in a larger location has also allowed Kitka to get involved in Kodiak High School’s Learning Cafe work program, which helps students find local apprenticeships.
He said he got involved to help Kodiak’s youth be able to learn trade skills, especially since he thinks mechanics will be around for years to come.
Kitka is currently working with two students from Kodiak High School.
“Forty or fifty years ago, you learned trade from your parents,” he said. “You more or less did what they did. That doesn't happen anymore. I just don’t see the mechanic trade going away anytime soon.”
Pacific ATV & Engine Repair can be reached at 486-BIKE (2453) or http://pacificatv.webs.com.
Contact Mirror writer Nicole Klauss at firstname.lastname@example.org.