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  Shop Profile

Oregon Shop Likes Being ‘Green’

Posted 8/13/2009
By Levy Joffrion

Tom Sevart Sr., Joe Sevart and Tom Sevart Jr.
Parked in front of Hawthorne Auto Clinic in Portland, Ore., is the Prius converted to a plug-in vehicle that gets more than 100 mpg. According to the Set America Free coalition, if all cars on the road were hybrids and half were plug-in hybrid vehicles, U.S. oil imports would drop by 8 million barrels per day.

A lot of ASA shops are doing little things to "go green." Things like switching from incandescent to fluorescent lighting, shutting the lights off when possible, and using coffee mugs instead of paper cups.

Hawthorne Auto Clinic Inc. in Portland, Ore., is doing all that and more - because its principals are firm believers in environmental responsibility.

"We are part of a group of mechanical and collision repair shops that recognize we work in a dirty industry and therefore we must focus on the importance of environmental responsibility in our business practices," says Liz Dally, AAM, the company president and general manager.

Liz and Jim Houser, the co-manager, take "going green" seriously.

For example, they:

    • Recycle motor oil, oil filters, antifreeze, batteries, tires, air conditioning refrigerant and scrap metal, including catalytic converters.

    • Recycle cardboard, paper, glass bottles and packaging (including plastics) generated by daily operations.

    • Purchase many of their lubricants and fluids in bulk to avoid disposing of plastic bottles.

    • Use re-refined automotive antifreeze, when indicated, and offer re-refined engine oil.

    • Offer, when the quality is acceptable, remanufactured automotive components as a substitute for installing new parts.

    • Use non-chlorinated aerosols and an aqueous-based hot water washer for parts cleaning.

    • Enlist petroleum-eating microbes for minor spills.

    • Use recycled printer toner cartridges and, where possible, two-sided printing on 100 percent recycled paper in their office operations.

    • Use bath tissue that is 20 percent and facial tissue that is 10 percent post-consumer recycled.

Liz Dally and Jim Houser are both ASE-certified master automobile technicians and advanced engine performance specialists. They have been in business 26 years. "Auto shops have a reputation as being polluters," says Jim. "We want to change that image. Many shops are doing work, like us, to properly handle environmental issues."

In addition, they have added solar panels to their shop's roof that provide about 40 percent of their electrical power. They also have a Toyota Prius that they converted into a plug-in hybrid vehicle (PHEV) capable of fuel economy in excess of 100 mpg. That makes it one step "greener" than a stock Prius. They also plan to install a vehicle charging station at the curb adjacent to the shop, to be shared with their neighbors' PHEVs and electric vehicles (EVs).

They also offer to purchase carbon offsets for their customers' vehicle CO2 emissions when the customers allow them to perform their major routine services.

Why are Liz and Jim so intent on "going green?" Because they value people and the planet. "It's taking into account the impact your company has on society and the environment," they explain.

Bella, who is "in charge of quality control," comes to work every day with Liz and Jim. She is shown in the staff section of Hawthorne's Web site. Bella also has her own space on the Web site. Consumers can click on "Bella Sez ..." for helpful information and tips. Her message is changed once a month.

Their efforts have brought them a great deal of recognition and many awards.

Hawthorne Auto Clinic is a certified Eco-Logical Business, which assures its customers that the business has taken steps to reduce water and air pollution, and hazardous and solid waste. The shop also exceeds local environmental requirements and ensures that best management practices are followed. In short, certification lets the community know that the shop cares about the environment.

Certification came from the Eco-Logical Business/Automotive Services Program that is a joint project of area Automotive Service Association shops, the Northwest Automotive Trades Association, AAA of Oregon/Idaho and the Pollution Prevention Outreach Team of Portland and Gresham, Clackamas and Washington counties, United Sewerage Agency, Metro and the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality.

One hundred automobile repair shops in the Tri-County area have now been certified. It is said to be the first multi-media (air, water, solid waste) certification program in the nation.

From left are Anatoli Lobasyuk, an ASE-certified technician; Khanh Tran, a student intern; Jim Houser; and Nick McCoy, who is ASE master and L1 certified.

Hawthorne Auto Clinic services and repairs most domestic and import vehicles.

It has been in business 26 years. Originally, there was just Liz and Jim. Today, they have 14 employees, including three student interns.

The shop has nine repair bays and seven vehicle lifts.

Its Web site was named one of AutoInc.'s Top 10 Web sites this year. Noteworthy is the fact that the Web site prominently displays ASA's Code of Ethics, to which Hawthorne Auto Clinic adheres.

Liz and Jim's immediate plans for the future? To expand their gas-electric hybrid vehicle focus to include the new wave of electric vehicles. And, you can bet that if anything new comes along in the way of going green, they'll pursue it.

Like to Know How to Be ‘Green’

Does "being green" sound good to you and you'd like to know more about how to get there?

Good information on how to get started can be found by going to and clicking on "Auto Program." Included on that site is "Keep Your Shop in Tune," a handbook that outlines the best management practices to control and prevent pollution for automotive shops. The guidebook lists ideas to reduce water and air pollution, and hazardous and solid waste.


Shop Stats

Name of Shop: Hawthorne Auto Clinic
Location: Portland, Ore.
Square Footage of Shop: 5,000 square feet
Number of Years in Business: 26
Number of Employees: 14
Number of Repairs: 70 to 75 per week
Projected Annual Sales: $1.2 million-plus
Web Site Address:
Why They Joined ASA: "To gain a national perspective of our industry and learn from other shops throughout the country."


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