Back Country Binders 4x4 keeps old Scouts on the road

What began as an “extended homework project” for John Fleck has transformed into one of the premier off-road shops on the Kitsap Peninsula.

Back Country Binders 4x4 is a full-service shop catering to all types of four-wheel vehicles. Fleck first got started when he was a sophomore at Washington State University and was working on his own 4x4 vehicle, an International Harvester Scout, when friends soon began asking him to work on theirs. In 1999, he moved to Kitsap County. Two years ago he moved his shop to its current location on Northlake Way and specializes in older four-wheel Scouts as well as all different types of 4x4 vehicles.

“We have doors, hoods, fenders, bumpers, pretty much everything you will need for Scouts,” Fleck said.

Back Country Binders 4x4 also specializes in other off-road rigs including Jeeps, Broncos, Chevrolets, Dodges, Fords and foreign 4x4s.

“We upgrade a lot of other 4x4s too,” Fleck said. “We bring them up to par.”

Services available include installation, rebuilding of motors and transmissions, welding, installation and custom fabrication and restoration work. Its extended parts line includes rugged fabricated parts including many items that are no longer available.

“We have tons of used parts, parts that are no longer available we can get right off the shelf,” Fleck said. “If we don’t have the part, we can usually get it the next day and if we can’t get it, we’ll point the customer in the right direction to a competitor. We want to make sure the customer gets taken care of.”

Back Country Binders 4x4 specializes in custom work. Some of the most popular requests from customers are bumpers, roll cages, rock sliders and tube work, according to Fleck.

“These are things that many people don’t have time to do and you need specialized equipment to do it,” he said.

Fleck has seen the trend for four-wheel vehicles grow in recent years and says he enjoys doing custom work.

“I like the creative aspect of doing custom work,” he said. “Seeing the smile on the customers’ face and the end result makes me happy.”

He adds that being able to keep another Scout on the road also makes him happy.

“The last (Scout) built was in 1980,” he said. “It’s a vehicle that doesn’t have much aftermarket support. People have a love affair with them, you either love them or you hate them.”

Fleck attributes the growing success of Back Country Binders 4x4 to the fact that besides fabricated parts, his shop also offers all of the same parts as larger chain stores, but at a cheaper price because of its low overhead.

“By not having a high overhead we can make a living, but still offer competitive prices that beat most of those around here,” Fleck said.

He adds that it’s the high quality of customer service that also brings customers back.

“We’ll spend the time to make customers feel comfortable and talk with them for sometimes a half-hour even if we know we’re not going to sell anything to them,” he said.

The 3,100 square-foot shop includes a separate welding and fabrication room. The welders at the shop are Olympic College certified and parts manager Joe Michel has been in the business for more than 22 years.

Back Country Binders 4x4 ships parts out all across the nation.

“We’re one of the seven largest Scout four-wheel drive stores in the nation,” Fleck said.

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