Benjamin Hromadka, 15, wants to change the narrative around young people always being on their phones.
Hromadka is the owner and founder of Camas Typewriter Co., a one-man business focusing on restoring and selling vintage typewriters. While many may think typewriters are outdated, Hromadka hopes that the passion he brings to his work will inspire people to reconsider.
“I really believe that typewriters aren’t going to die any time soon,” he says. “There are people all around the world that still love clicking away at their machines and I don’t see them going anywhere.”
Hromadka’s love for typewriters goes back to when he was 6 and received his first typewriter as a birthday present from his father. Hromadka describes the experience as having a switch flipped in his brain, sparking his passion and driving him to learn more and more about the machines.
Since then, Hromadka has collected 20 typewriters. As his collection grew, so did his curiosity. He began to consider how best to care for and maintain the delicate old machines, which were often dirty or out of working condition.
“I grew very passionate about these machines,” he said. “I really wanted everybody to realize that these things aren’t junk. Yes, they’re outdated, but they’re very charming. They make writing even more fun.”
This desire to put typewriters back in the spotlight is what drove Hromadka to establish his own business. Having received support and interest from local vintage and antique stores, he decided to name the business Camas Typewriter Co. as a way of giving back to his community.
“Camas is a small but connected community, so there’s a lot of support here for me and my line of work. It can be a bit shocking to people to see a sophomore in high school working on typewriters older than his grandparents, but everyone here finds it cool,” Hromadka said. “Clark County has a lot of people interested in typewriters and antiques, so the market for typewriters here is a lot larger than most other parts of the United States.”
The business has had its fair share of hurdles, however. As some models Hromadka receives become older and rarer, the parts for restoring them become harder to find. In addition, he’s having to balance schoolwork on top of it all.
Despite the challenges, Hromadka still looks excitedly toward the future of his business. While operating out of a workspace in his bedroom, Hromadka has big dreams of one day opening his own repair shop and storefront in town.
In the meantime, Hromadka welcomes anyone interested in getting into the typewriting hobby to visit his website camastypewriter.com or his Instagram @camastypewriterco to start their own repair and restoration journeys.
“I really recommend getting involved in typewriter repair,” he said. “I feel like if more people had access to the craft, they would use typewriters more. It can be tricky at times, but it’s so much fun and very rewarding.”