Now, Help For Christmas Klutzes

Posted: December 20, 1995

Yes, it's true. Sometimes, those missing parts, those nuts and bolts, those toy-assembly instructions printed in microscopic type or in Japanese can drive Santa Claus crazy.

That's why the elves, always quick to spot business and promotional opportunities, are hanging out their shingles to offer assembly services for both charity and profit.

Three Chester County partners recently started a business called Assembled- By-Us in Exton that, for a fee, will put together toys, furniture or equipment in customers' homes or businesses in Chester, Delaware and Montgomery Counties.

And a dozen GMC Truck dealers in the region are donating the skills of their mechanics at select times during December to assemble large toys such as bicycles, playhouses and wagons. In exchange, recipients of the free service are asked to make donations to the Variety Club, a nonprofit volunteer organization that provides recreational and educational programs for disabled children.

"Our mission is to brighten the lives of disabled kids. These donations will help in a lot of different ways," said Cindy Conte, a Variety Club representative.

The dealers, under the auspices of the Delaware Valley GMC Truck Dealerships Association, hope to raise between $1,000 and $1,500 in this first-time program, a spokeswoman said.

Participants say it's both good business and good citizenship.

"My staff and I talked about it and decided this is something we could give back to the community," said John Adelizzi, of Burns Pontiac-GMC Truck in Marlton. "It looks like we're building mostly Big Wheels."

But some dealers said public response so far had been light.

"I haven't put one thing together. I haven't had a single call. We're here and available," said David Wack, service manager at Faulkner Pontiac Buick & GMC Truck in West Chester.

"It's a nice idea. It's a shame it has not taken off," said Gary Chase, service director for Peruzzi Pontiac GMC Suzuki & Nissan in Fairless Hills. Chase said response had been light at the Bucks County dealership.

Anyone deciding to take advantage of the program at Peruzzi on Saturday should call first, Chase added. "And they have to bring any parts, batteries, everything required for assembly except tools."

Harried parents who prefer to have toys put together in their homes can hire Assembled-By-Us in Exton to do the work.

Partners Bob Keene of West Grove, Ben Sahijwani of West Chester and Richard J. Lukesh of Exton hope their new business will fill a permanent niche. They have hired about 10 employees to assemble everything from furniture to gas grills, exercise equipment, swing sets and toys.

There is a minimum charge of $30 per service call, Lukesh said. "A typical desk would cost $60. Gas grills, depending on size, range between $35 and $45."

Gene and RitaAnn Nussbaum, who live near West Chester with their three young sons, recently hired the Exton firm to assemble a battery-operated ride- on toy truck, a tricycle and a file cabinet, all for an $84 fee.

Was it worth it?

"Oh my gosh, yes, definitely," said RitaAnn Nussbaum.


* For GMC Truck dealers participating in the toy assembly program, call 215-574-3518.

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