Massachusetts Shop Changes with the Times
By Levy Joffrion
Paxton Garage ‘does a little of everything.’
Most shops start out small and grow. Paxton Garage Inc. in Paxton, Mass., has done just the opposite. It has done a real switcheroo.
When Co-Owners Rusty Savignac and Richard Jenkins bought it in 1974 (it was founded in 1956), it had four full-time employees servicing and repairing vehicles and selling gas plus eight school bus drivers (yes, you read right … eight school bus drivers).
Today, Paxton Garage is no longer a service station and it doesn’t operate school buses. There are only three full-time employees.
Times have changed, and Paxton Garage has changed with it.
The town in which it is located in had 4,386 people in 2000.
Rusty and Richard and their tech, Jeff “Jeppie” Clark, are all ASE masters. Richard is a master truck tech, Jeff is a master auto tech and Rusty is a master auto and truck tech with both L1 and L2 certifications.
“We are a little unusual,” says Rusty, “in that we do a little of everything. At our shop, you’ll see the typical assortment of domestic and Asian cars and light trucks, but you’ll also see fire trucks and ambulances, business class trucks, dump trucks, trailers, ski boats, motor homes, backhoes and wood chippers.
“Special steel fabrication jobs, while not common, are part of what we do. We also have three tow trucks and perform state vehicle and DOT inspections.”
Both Rusty and Richard are active in their community. And Rusty is a leader, on a state and national scale, in the automotive industry (see adjacent story).
Both have been members of Paxton’s fire department since the mid-1970s, and Richard currently serves as deputy chief. Rusty is president of the Paxton Firefighters Association (a social wing of the department) and is a past president and current board member of the New England Service Station & Auto Repair Association.
Their plans for the future? Says Rusty, “We’d like to see the shop continue to serve the needs of our customers for another generation.”
You can bet their customers would like that too.
Name of Shop: Paxton Garage Inc.
Location: Paxton, Mass.
Square Footage of Shop: 4,000 square feet
Number of Employees: Three
Number of Repairs Weekly: 22
Annual Sales: $450,000
Why Jewell Auto Is a Member of ASA: “Networking with smart, successful shop owners and techs has taught me so much about the pitfalls to avoid, the life preservers to grab onto, and how and where to take classes to stay as current as possible in this fast-paced and ever-changing industry.”
‘Rusty’s a Tireless Advocate. One of Those Members Every Association Needs’
“Rusty Savignac is one of those members every association needs: A tireless advocate; not afraid to give his opinion.” So says Skip Potter, executive director of the National Automotive Service Task Force (NASTF).
Robert L. Redding Jr., ASA’s representative in Washington, D.C, agrees. Redding says, “Rusty has been a longtime leader for ASA on service information issues. He’s knowledgeable and well spoken in ensuring that repairers have the information and tools necessary to repair their customers’ vehicles.
“ASA is fortunate to have a volunteer leader like Rusty to assist us with our state and national policy messages.”
ASA and automakers in 2002 reached a historic agreement that stipulated that service and repair information would be readily available.
The National Automotive Service Task Force (NASTF) was founded to address and resolve issues related to service information. NASTF is a cooperative effort among the automotive service industry, the equipment and tool industry, and automotive manufacturers to ensure that automotive service professionals have the information, training and tools needed to properly diagnose and repair today’s high-tech vehicles.
The system is working.
The Federal Trade Commission, the Better Business Bureau, the U.S. Congress and numerous state legislatures have told Right to Repair proponents legislation is not necessary.
But R2R proponents, not getting anywhere in the U.S. Congress, have zeroed in on some states, like Massachusetts.
ASA has argued for some time that this issue is about parts and intellectual property. This is pointed up by the fact that leading the effort to get legislation passed are automotive parts distributor organizations.
Says Rusty: “I have always felt the R2R movement was the ‘big lie;’ easy for many to believe. It sounds good to those who don’t know the truth, but legislation is not necessary.
“Unfortunately, most of my peers have no understanding of what is available, much less how to get it and how affordable some of it is. Most shop owners and techs believe R2R will solve all their issues.
“Things got complicated here in Massachusetts last year. The R2R proponents got enough support to get a poorly composed bill on deck for a November vote. Meantime, the proponents for R2R and those opposing legislation reached an agreement for a compromise bill that was signed into law and was supposed to ward off the earlier bill. Unfortunately, the clock ran out, so the initial bill stood in November and passed overwhelmingly. Massachusetts was left with two similar yet different pieces of legislation.
We still have both laws in effect, but we expect a bill to be heard this spring that will negate both pieces of law and substitute one bill in their place.”
As AutoInc. goes to press, the battle continues. And still in the fray is Rusty.