Profiles: Earning Bucks the Old Way

"I've never been caught up," he says. "In fact, we're just getting ready to build some for Donald Trump out there at that casino" in Atlantic City.

"Probably the most rewarding thing about this business has been the people I've gotten to meet," he says.

Andler doesn't duplicate old-fashioned methods of production. Rather than making each carriage from scratch out of wood and lacquer, he builds rough wooden prototypes of custom orders, such as the Connick model, and then casts molds from which he can fabricate fiberglass parts. Afterward, the carriage can be mass-produced and becomes part of Andler's ever-expanding line.

His most popular models are his "Limited Edition" carriage and hearses.

"Hearses are hot," he says. "Here's my logic for that: The people who are of dying age now are the people who were alive during the horse-and-buggy era."

Though the business may seem old fashioned, it has propelled Andler from a country upbringing into the digital age. He runs an elaborate Web site, does a brisk, modern business, and travels the country delivering carriages.

"I spend more time on the damn computer and telephone selling the stuff," he says. "I'd rather be out there working with my hands, but it's just grown into such a monster that I can't do it."

In the production shop, he adds, somewhat jealously, "They're still wearing their bib overalls, chewing on grass and listening to Willie Nelson."

He says he's used to rustic ways and so doesn't spend a whole lot of time pondering the nostalgic aspects of the job.

"I've been at this for 30 years and it still doesn't stop fascinating me that people are fascinated by this," he says. "I'll keep doing it till I can't. It keeps me young."

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Marshall Rice, 63 -- Milkman, Davis, Calif.

Rice still drives a 1964 Divco milk truck that's had four engine replacements, and revels in the slice of Americana that is his job.

But his survival may be rooted in a modern trend — the two-career family.

Rice, who's broadened his line from dairy products to "a rolling grocery store," thinks he's been able to prosper because his vintage service saves time and effort for time-pressed modern families.

"Nobody has any time," he says. "So along comes this fellow who says, 'I can bring you one-third of your groceries for the same price as a major grocery store,' and suddenly business was very good.

"Each year that goes by, I get more and more appreciative of the uniqueness of this business," he says. "For me, the joy of this business is that when my head hits the pillow at night, I'm exhausted and happy that I've helped families to keep their car parked in the driveway and have a little bit more time."

Rice began delivering products for Sacramento, Calif.'s Crystal Cream and Butter Co. in 1968, and purchased his route from the dairy in 1970. Then, in the mid- to late-1970s, California deregulated its dairy industry, and he faced difficult price competition from supermarkets.

Four home delivery competitors went belly up, but Rice survived by working harder than he ever had. Eventually, he diversified his line to include bakery bread and muffins, breakfast meats, juices and bottled water.

Whereas about 23.1 percent of federally tracked milk sales were through home delivery in 1967, just 0.4 percent was delivered in 2001, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which does not measure sales in California and certain other regions.

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