Oklahoma City motor repair business still revving after 50 years

Roland Harrison was 25 years old when he and a business partner founded Capitol Electric Motor Repair in July 1964. 50 years later, Capitol Electric in Oklahoma City has 13 employees and does about $3 million worth of business each year.
by Brianna Bailey Modified: July 4, 2014 at 3:00 pm •  Published: July 4, 2014


photo - 
Motor technician Thomas Shotts inspects the inside of an industrial motor at Capitol Electric Motor Repair in southwest Oklahoma City. The company is celebrating 50 years in business. Photos by Paul Hellstern, The Oklahoman
  PAUL HELLSTERN - 
Oklahoman
Motor technician Thomas Shotts inspects the inside of an industrial motor at Capitol Electric Motor Repair in southwest Oklahoma City. The company is celebrating 50 years in business. Photos by Paul Hellstern, The Oklahoman PAUL HELLSTERN - Oklahoman

Roland Harrison was 25 years old when he and a business partner founded Capitol Electric Motor Repair in July 1964. He opened up a checking account for the business with just $20.

“The woman at the bank gave me a book with 20 checks in it and said ‘I think that will be sufficient,’” he recalled.

Fifty years later, Capitol Electric has 13 employees and does about $3 million worth of business each year. At age 75, Roland Harrison still gets up every morning at 5:30 a.m. to tend to about 100 head of cattle on his ranch in Minco. Most days, he also walks at least two miles around his property before heading into work at the shop, where he still loves to work with his hands, making machine parts and welding.

“He’s the kind of guy who is so good at fixing things that had he been on the Titanic, it wouldn’t have sunk,” said son Ron Harrison, who took over ownership of the business after Roland Harrison had a massive heart attack in 1984.

Doctors told Roland Harrison he would likely need a heart transplant in a few years after his heart attack, but he changed his diet, started exercising, kept working — and never stopped.

Harrison opened Capitol Electric on July 5, 1964, with business partner Jerry Unsell, whom he later bought out. After starting the business in a leased space on SW 29 for $125 a month, the company purchased a warehouse building at 2215 SW 11 in 1968 for $35,000, where the business still sits today.

When Ron Harrison took control of Capitol Electric in 1984, it was in the wake of the the oil bust in Oklahoma, and many businesses were struggling. Today, he says the secret to keeping the doors open for so long is simple perseverance.

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by Brianna Bailey
Business Writer
Brianna Bailey has lived in Idaho, Germany and Southern California, but Oklahoma is her adopted home. She has a bachelor's degree in Journalism from the Univerisity of Oklahoma and has worked at several newspapers in Oklahoma and Southern...
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