Bernard's Garage in Its 86th Year
• Calvin Coolidge becomes the first president to have his inauguration broadcast on radio.
• The New Yorker magazine publishes its first issue.
• Mount Rushmore is dedicated.
• The Chrysler Corp. is founded by Walter Percy Chrysler.
And on May 10 that year, Joe Bernard Sr. opened Bernard's Garage Inc. in downtown Milwaukie, Ore.
Eighty-six years later, the shop is still going strong and it's still owned and operated by the Bernard family, with the third generation now in charge.
The world has changed a lot since grandpa opened the shop. Back then, Joe Sr. would go into his small machine shop and make his own parts. That's what it took to meet his customers' needs. In the years since, Milwaukie's dirt roads have been paved, and folks don't tie up their horses anymore to the hitching rigs on Main Street. Moreover, today's vehicles are much more complicated than the ones his dad worked on, says Joe Jr. They're loaded with computers and high-tech equipment. Yesterday's "mechanics" are the "technicians" of today.
What hasn't changed, says Joe Jr., is the shop's dedication to meeting its customers' needs.
Joe Jr. joined his father in the shop and began running the show in 1955. Joe Jr. sold it in 1982 to one of his six children, James "Jim."
But he didn't quit work altogether. He served as executive director of the ASA-Oregon affiliate for more than 10 years, finally retiring in 1998.
He had long been active in the Automotive Service Association at the local, affiliate and national levels.
Joe Jr. was an early member of ASA in Oregon and in 1980-81 served as chairman of the board for the Automotive Service Council (ASC), which merged in 1986 with the Independent Automotive Service Association (IASA) to form the Automotive Service Association (ASA).
Following in his father's footsteps, Jim has also been active in ASA. He has served as president of the ASA-Portland, Ore., chapter and has held all positions within the chapter. He was also a member of the ASA-Oregon affiliate board of directors.
Jim is carrying on the legacy of the shop's founder and son. "I believe, as my father and grandfather did, that the customer is No. 1 and deserves nothing less than our best, honest service," says Jim.
Also, like his father and grandfather, Jim understands the importance of giving back to the community, and Bernard's Garage continues to participate and assist in Milwaukie activities. Joe Jr. was mayor in 1963-64 and Jim served two terms as mayor, from 2001 to 2009. Jim is currently serving as a Clackamas County commissioner.
Bernard's Garage is also doing its best for the environment, which is nothing new for the shop. It strives to recycle all automotive components, including used motor oil and air-conditioning refrigerant. It also uses non-toxic cleaners and solvents whenever possible and maximizes the use of cleaners and fluids before they are recycled. This reduces air and water pollution and is safer for the shop's employees and customers.
Maybe Jim's grandfather had trouble getting parts and had to resort to making his own, but today Bernard's Garage is so efficient that it operates its own parts store, adjacent to its state-of-the-art shop. It handles replacement parts from such companies as AC Delco, Bosch, BCA Bearings, Dayco, Felpro and Raybestos.
The shop works on a wide range of foreign and domestic automobiles, and its staff is General Motors Co. trained and ASE certified. It's also a AAA-approved auto service center.
Bernard's Garage Inc. has been a member of ASA since 1964.
Joe Jr.; his wife, Shirley; and Jim are all Accredited Automotive Managers, a designation they earned through the Automotive Management Institute.
What's ahead for Bernard's Garage? "To continue the family tradition of serving the community, the automotive service and repair industry, and my employees," says Jim.
Name of Shop: Bernard's Garage Inc.
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