Best of Baltimore

2013 Best of Baltimore: Service

The best repair man, computer service and more

Appliance Repair

Landers Appliance

This outfit has been honored by us eight times in the past 20
years—which is all about the focus they put on customer service.
Landers’s 22 employees spend much of the day talking to customers by
phone and e-mail about whether a given washer, dryer, fridge,
dishwasher, or window A.C. unit is worth fixing. If the repair costs
more than half the replacement cost, they’ll tell you honestly to save
your money. 7032 Golden Ring Road, 410-682-3232.

Auto Body

Leading Edge Auto Body and Mechanical Repair

It can be tricky finding an auto-body shop with virtually spotless
feedback from customers. But one such outfit is Leading Edge, opened
eight years ago by Jeff Siegel. Its mechanical talents lean toward Asian
car brands, but they’ll do body work on just about anything (except
Saabs—no one wants to work on them) and deal with all the insurers. And
the word’s out far beyond the neighborhood—thanks to glowing Internet
reviews and a 2009 Best-of-Baltimore win, their customers come from a
30-mile radius. 5807 Falls Road, 410-433-6433.

Computer Service


We were a little nervous when Cyberguys got bought by commercial
computer sales and repair firm A-Plus Computers. Would they lose that
personal touch and their super-fast service? Nope! Cyberguys will
continue to focus on home-computer repair and even make house calls (for
an extra charge). And yes, they work on both PCs and Macs. 1544 York
Road, Lutherville, 410-560-0100.


Madden Electric

From sleuthing a short-circuit or upgrading your overloaded
electrical panel to installing security lights and sensors or wiring a
generator switch (remember the derecho?), Vince Madden and his crews
still stand out from the crowd with quick responses, fast work, and
reasonable prices. 410-563-2076,


Pet Care Pet + ER

It’s New Year’s Day. On a Sunday. And there’s a blizzard. Naturally,
your pet marmot has chosen this moment to have a life-threatening
emergency. Time to head to Pet + ER, a 24/7 pet hospital that handles
just critical pet cases from infections and seizures to car accidents
and poisoning. Industry experts have described them as “The Shock Trauma
of Maryland for dogs.” (And for Fluffy the marmot, too). 1209 Cromwell
Bridge Road, 410-252-8387.


Brody Brothers Pest Control

Got ants, bees, stink bugs, roaches, or spiders? What about mice,
termites, fleas, and bed bugs? No matter what’s bugging you, Brody
Brothers can help. They’ve been putting out contracts on pests for 29
years, and their technicians serve the entire metro area. Customers give
them high marks for quick responses, professionalism, and fair pricing.
And now they’ve added a new specialty: wildlife issues. So when it
sounds like a family of raccoons has moved into your attic, you’ll know
whom to call. 1430 Reisterstown Road, Pikesville. 410-653-2121.


Purnell Galleries

Whether it’s a 200-year-old painting or a pair of baby shoes that
needs to be artfully framed, Rob Harwood, of the 123-year-old Purnell
Galleries in Hampden, is the choice of serious collectors all over the
region. Harwood, an expert on 19th-century American painting and prints,
also specializes in fine-art appraisals for institutions and
individuals, and restoration and conservation, as well as buying and
selling regional historic art. Among his custom projects have been
display cases to hold everything from ancient books and antique jewelry
to falcon hoods and a 1950s letter sweater. Sis boom bah. Mill Centre,
3000 Chestnut Avenue, #343-A, 410-662-7555.

Nursery: Old School

Radebaugh Florist & Greenhouses The rambling complex of
greenhouses at Radebaugh Florist & Greenhouses, with its thousands
of plants (other nurseries buy from them), has been family-owned since
1924, and has a yesteryear feel: You still get 10 percent off for cash
or check. 120 E. Burke Avenue, Towson, 410-825-4300.

Nursery: New School

Homestead Garden Center

From trees and shrubs to garden supplies, upscale patio furniture,
and home décor, the offerings at Homestead Garden Center seem endless,
and even include that obligatory “new-school” touch: a cafe. Two
locations, including 743 W. Central Avenue, Davidsonville, 410-798-5000.

Dog Trainer

You Silly Dog

We give a paws up to Alisa Peters, founder of the 7-year-old You
Silly Dog training service, who believes in using gentle persuasion and
positive reinforcement rather than choke collars, shocks, spanks, or
yelling to get Fido under control. Thousands of dogs have graduated
magna cum laude from her group classes and private lessons, and the
certified trainer is the first name recommended by doggy daycare and
motel service Charm City Dogs, as well as other pet professionals. 443-625-9866,

Hardwood Flooring

Jason Brown Wood Floors

Whether its refinishes, repairs, putting in borders or inlays, or
installing from scratch, our money is on Jason Brown of Jason Brown Wood
Floors. Operating all over the Baltimore-Washington area, he’s often
referred by high-end Realtors and has done jobs for the likes of Oriole
Adam Jones and former Raven Ray Lewis. But, he’s quick to point out, he
charges everybody the same. 7828 West Moreland Avenue, 410-668-9131.

Home-Improvement Architect

Gabrielli Design Studio

Drive around even the better ’hoods and you’ll see some frightfully
ugly additions with no aesthetic relationship to the original structure.
That’s because some “design/build” contractor thought he was an
architect. And it’s the reason smart folks call architect Julie
Gabrielli of Gabrielli Design Studio. For 20 years, Gabrielli, who also
has taught architecture at the University of Maryland, has been
providing sustainable design for homes, businesses, and institutions,
from green-guided master plans for renovations and additions to
LEED-certified finishes. You want awards? They’re in a pile in her
office— because she doesn’t have a wall big enough for them all. 2224
Crest Road, 410-530-0389.

Home Inspector

20/20 Home Inspections

Where’s that mildew coming from in the basement? And what’s with all
the termite damage? Did someone try to paint over those water stains in
the living room ceiling? Those are the tough questions a good home
inspector will ask (and answer), and there’s no one who strikes more
fear into the hearts of sellers than Ross Germano of 20/20 Home
Inspections. Serving the entire Baltimore area, Germano started his
business 11 years ago after 20 years as a general contractor, so he
knows where to poke his flashlight. 2020 Ridge Road, Reisterstown, 410-925-0436.

Iron Fencing


If you’re thinking about getting aluminum fencing for your property,
consider that a large dog, a deer, or even a strong intruder can pull
the bars apart. Next stop? Ornamental iron, and the place to call is
Welding, Engineering, and Assembly Company (WEACO), which has been
making and installing decorative ornamental iron and specialty steel
fabricated products for more than 60 years. Customers give them high
marks for beautiful craftsmanship, honesty, understanding of security
weak spots, and their respect for your landscaping. We dare you to find
any man or beast that can pull these pointed puppies apart. WEACO, 2144
Harford Road, 410-467-1354.

Lawnmower Repair

Perry Hall Lawn Equipment

We know, you can program your DVR through your smartphone but you
can’t change a spark plug to save your life. Is that any excuse to throw
away a $300 lawnmower just because it started sputtering? Fact is, 90
percent of them are easily fixable. Head to Perry Hall Lawn Equipment,
where they can put just about any brand back into service pronto for a
pittance. And if it’s truly not worth fixing, they sell new ones, too,
for about the same price as Home Depot——but deliver it assembled, and
all tanked up with oil and gas. 3403 E. Joppa Road, Parkville, 410-661-2884.


Annapolis Lighting

Even if you live halfway around the Beltway, it’s worth a trip to the
state capital to check out Annapolis Lighting, a blinding,
17,000-square-foot wonderland of high-end lighting options. Customers
rave not only about the selection at this 39-year-old lighting
destination, but about the personal service—if they don’t have it,
they’ll order it. Wear your shades. 71 Forest Plaza, Annapolis, 410-224-2565.


Josh Levin & Associates

Ask top interior designers like Patrick Sutton, Jenkins Baer, or
Cashmere Interiors to name their go-to guy for upholstery, and they’ll
tell you it’s Josh Levin. His father learned the trade in 1912, and now
Levin’s nephew Daniel Block represents the third generation in the
company, whose upholsterers and seamstresses specialize in custom work
like headboards and walls, new furniture, reupholstering, and repairs.
“We work with a lot of designers with all kinds of things going on in
their imagination,” says Levin. 9324 Liberty Road, Randallstown, 410-922-2131.


Hands On Painters

So this guy named Jonathan Zawacki who had a B.S. in psychology from
Towson University decided to start a fix-it business to pay back his
mother for supporting him while he took a 4,000-mile, cross-country
bicycle trip. That quickly morphed into Hands On Painters, one of the
most highly regarded brush brigades in the area, with endless
recommendations from customers. And true to Zawacki’s odd-job roots,
they do lots of other things, too, like minor repairs, hanging fixtures,
faux finishing, and tile and drywall work. 4503 Leeds Avenue, 410-242-1737.

Piano Tuner

Greg Hudak

If your sharps sound a little flat and your minor chord sounds major,
then your piano needs the attention of Greg Hudak, a 25-year veteran of
ivories science, who does everything from standard tuning to complete
restorations. And he comes with a pedigree: He was a piano technician at
the Peabody Conservatory of Music for more than 20 years and served on
the faculty as instructor in piano technology. Still not convinced? How
’bout if we told you BSO maestra Marin Alsop sent him our way: He’s been
concert technician for the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra for more than
20 years. 410-542-3385,

Plumbing & Heating

Mike’s Plumbing & Heating Service

Want a cheap plumber? Go to the Yellow Pages, close your eyes, and
point—you might get lucky. But if you want a good plumber, call Mike’s.
This family-owned operation is on time, courteous, professional, gives
clear estimates, guarantees its work, and offers annual contracts. 7110
Golden Ring Road, 410-686-1950.

Pool Construction

Lothorian Pools

We’ve avoided this category for years because finding a reliable pool
contractor can be a minefield. But Phoenix-based Lothorian Pools jumped
through our every hoop with flying colors. With numerous glowing
references from clients, countless industry awards, a reputation for
on-time/on-budget performance, and great customer service, it’s clear
brothers Matthew and Bob Thompson have put their reputation first in the
past 30 years. A giant clue? They Business Bureau—and they’re not even
members. 13536 Jarrettsville Pike, Phoenix, 410-667-7665.

Home Health Aides

Lisa Vogel Agency

Hooray. Finding professional, well-trained, and well-screened people
to look after Granny in her home without breaking the bank is possible.
Meet the Lisa Vogel Agency, which serves clients 24/7 who require either
long- or short-term rehabilitation or hospice care. Started in 2008 as
an Accessible Home Health Care franchise, the Maryland-certified company
was taken independent last year by Vogel after she won a number of
regional and national awards for excellence (cover photo). 4730 Atrium
Court #107, Owings Mills, 410-363-7770.

Porcelain Refinishing

Chesapeake Permaglaze South

That stained, scratched tub or bathroom sink is starting to be a
family embarrassment, but you don’t want to rip things up to install a
new one, or maybe you’re trying to preserve the vintage look of the
fixtures in an older house. Time to recruit John Raccioppi, who serves
all of central Maryland doing resurfacing of just about anything,
including fiberglass showers and countertops. Trust us, it’ll look like
new. So go ahead and invite your mother-in-law over. And try to look
older than your years: There’s a 5-percent discount for seniors. 1202
Glastonbury Way, Bel Air, 410-688-4740.

Precious Rug Cleaning and Repair


Rug Cleaning Experts in the chemistry of dyes, Chip and Alecia
Cunningham can clean, repair, and restore just about any valuable
rug——Persian, Turkish, Navajo——and then they can tell you what it’s
worth. It’s no wonder that insurance firms use them all the time. 6610
Amberton Drive, Suite 200, Elkridge, 443-561-3000.

Contractor: Old School

Owings Brothers Contracting

The 30-year-old Owings Brothers Contracting boasts a spotless record
among its loyal clientele for its professionalism, versatility, good
communication with customers, and competitive pricing. They’ve also won
numerous industry awards for their work. 1912 Liberty Road, #3,
Eldersburg, 410-781-7022.

Contractor: New School


If you want to take a more Earth-friendly approach to building, give
Polly Bart a shout. She’s the brains behind award-winner Greenbuilders,
Inc. She doesn’t force green solutions on her clients, but is an expert
on home construction and remodeling using eco-friendly materials and
strategies. 4027 Osborn Road, Reisterstown, 410-833-4814.


Park Heights Roofing

Israel Elgamil’s 12-year-old company isn’t the biggest roofing
company in town, nor the oldest, nor the best-known, but that’s actually
a good thing. Elgamil’s crews (all full-timers, no day laborers)
specialize in slate- and shingle-roof installation and repair. (Sorry,
no flat roofs.) The company has avoided over-extending itself, so it’s
totally possible to have a new roof in 10 days (try that with the big
boys). 6999 Reisterstown Road, Suite 1, 410-484-ROOF.

Shoe Repair

Eugene’s Shoe Repair

The place looks a little Third World from the street, but for 17
years, Eugene’s Shoe Repair has been building a loyal following among
folks from all walks of life, who tell us Ukrainian native Eugene
Gomberg can make nearly new anything from scuffed up wingtips or Jimmy
Choos to all manner of Birkenstock footwear (which has won him a fan
club of Hopkins and Loyola students). He can fix weird stuff, too:
leather jackets, that favorite pair of gloves, you name it. And he gets
high marks for low prices—have you seen what new shoes cost these days?
516 W. Cold Spring Lane, 410-243-8874.


Jack Christopher Custom Clothing

Owner Chris A’Hern learned his trade two decades ago from Italian
tailors just off the boat who were working with him at Baltimore’s
venerable Haas Tailoring. Co. And now he’s stitcher to the stars, making
house and office calls for money managers, sports figures, doctors, and
other bigwigs (mostly guys, but not all) in need of some tape-measure
talent. He’s got that, he believes, not only because of his experience,
but because of his Towson University art degree—he knows each client’s
taste, knows what looks good on their frame, and needs only hold up a
swatch to see if it really suits them (pun intended). 3701 Malden
Avenue, 410-367-9662,

Window Cleaner

Friendly Neighborhood Window Cleaning

Sean Carr started Friendly Neighborhood after eight years as an
English teacher in Baltimore County schools. (He’s a Ralph Waldo Emerson
fan, and there’s not one typo on his website, natch.) His squeegee
skills are enlisted for some pretty high-end properties (check out his
site to see what we mean) and he’s a favorite with Realtors and
homeowners alike. And we’re sure this will put your mind at ease: He’s a
member of MWCoA (Master Window Cleaners of America) and IWCA
(International Window Cleaners of America) and probably eats at IHOP,
too. (Just a guess.) 1210 Corbett Road, Monkton, 410-733-5511.