Mike’s Rolling Thunder: Repair, parts and professionalism
ISHPEMING – Mike Pietila was only 8 years old when he began to fix things for others.
“I don’t remember that so much, but my mom tells stories about older kids in the neighborhood bringing their bikes to me and I’d fix them,” Pietila said with a grin.
Taking that aptitude combining it with 20-plus years of experience working on motorcycles led Pietila to open his own business: Mike’s Rolling Thunder Motorcycle Repair.
The business opened the first week of May at 100 Steel St. in Ishpeming Township, right at the Ishpeming city limits.
A lifelong resident of Richmond Township’s Suomi Location, Pietila began his professional career at the age of 16.
“That’s when I started working at the Harley shop. In the summer, I was full time and I was part time during the school year,” he said. “After I graduated (from Negaunee High School), I went full time and worked there for 20 years-plus.”
Becoming a mechanic was something he has enjoyed.
“There’s a reward in making something run,” Pietila said. “I enjoy making the customer happy with the work I do. I like being able to help someone get to go out and enjoy their toys.
“I rode when I was younger,” he said. “But now I don’t ride motorcycles, I fix them. I still have a Harley but I don’t ride it.”
But motorcycles are not all Pietila fixes.
“I will fix anything from Harley’s to dirt bikes to four-wheelers to snowmobiles to side-by-sides to metric bikes,” he said.
Pietila offers even more than fixing bikes.
“If someone needs parts, they can buy those from me, too.”
His own shop affords Pietila the opportunity to control his own destiny.
“I wanted to give people an option of places to go,” he said. “With the experience I have, I felt I could help a lot of people out. I can offer better prices than other places.
“I do engine work and performance work,” Pietila said. “Any kind of problem you have with performance work, bring it to me.”
Pietila works solo and keeps the shop open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday and from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturdays.
“I chose the name of the shop because I think everyone knows what Rolling Thunder means,” he said.
When he’s not at work, Pietila is often at home working on muscle classic cars. He enjoys spending time with his wife, Carrie, and his three children, Chett, Lydia and Raija.
“My son has an interest in motorcycles. He’s 9,” Pietila said with a smile. “I don’t know if my girls will be as interested.”
While some might not know how to find Steel Street – on which the shop is located – Pietila offers some simple directions.
“It’s real easy to find,” he said. “When you’re on (U.S.) highway, turn at Da Yoopers Tourist Trap. When you get to the stop sign, the shop is right there.”
Mike’s Rolling Thunder also has its own website: Mikesrollingthndr.com.
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