Hixson resident Bill Eaves is bringing a lifetime of experience to Bill E's Custom Marine, his shop focused on boat-propeller repair and sales which opened in Red Bank this month, just as boating season is beginning to ramp up.
"I'm mostly dealing with bass boats or high-performance boats for racing," said Eaves, who previously worked for 19 years at another propeller-repair shop in Soddy-Daisy and specializes in working with stainless steel and aluminum. "I do quality work that's reasonably priced, and most people who get to know me feel like family."
His willingness to come to his customers on the lake to help diagnose a propeller problem sets him apart from other repairmen, and he said customers also appreciate being able to speak personally with the person who will actually be repairing their boat.
Eaves sponsors several Outboard Drag Boat Association World Championship winners, and he travels to races all over the region to promote his business as well as indulge his love for drag boat racing.
"I love the speed of the boats," he said. "I still get chill bumps when I watch them run."
Bill E's also performs lower-unit repair and can order marine accessories such as spark plugs and hydraulic steering.
"I have anything you need to work on your own boat," he said.
The increased price in fuel this year has made few waves in his high-performance racing business, as it affects mainly individuals and fishermen, said Eaves.
"People with ski boats don't run quite as much, so they don't tear up their props," he said.
Boat repair is a family affair for Eaves, following in the wake of his father, who rebuilt motors and worked at Nichols Marine before starting C&E Outboards. Eaves said he decided to break out on his own for increased flexibility in his schedule, allowing him to be more available for volunteering with his church's bus ministry.
His brother, Dale Eaves, carries on the family business with their cousin Paul Nichols, who bought C&E and renamed it Nichols Outboard Engineering.
Eaves said his Red Bank location makes the business easily accessible from the interstate for customers traveling from all directions.