By Sue Moore
It says towing and repair on the truck, but the business is more than that, says owner Mark Parker as he talks about the recent move to 429 Grand Street in Schoolcraft.
To grow the business with better exposure, was his reason for buying the property formerly owned by the Hildebrand heavy equipment dealership on what could be called the ‘gateway to Schoolcraft’ across the railroad tracks on U.W. 131. With the harsh winter weather Kalamazoo County has experienced this year, his business has been booming, he says.
Parker began as a mechanic at Kendall Automotive in Portage. “I learned from the best,” he claims as he talks about his boss Charlie Kendall with whom he worked for 18 years before starting his own shop in Vicksburg. He moved to Schoolcraft on South Street in January 1997, where he repaired cars, sold used cars and towed cars for a living. His wife Kim, joined him as bookkeeper, dispatcher and jack of all trades that she says is ok, as long as I let him think he’s the boss, she jokes.
His emphasis is on taking care of his customers in a variety of ways. The best thing in the auto repair business is when it gets really hot or really cold, meaning plenty of broken down cars. He laughs when he says he is open 23 ½ hours a day, but he means it when the latest winter weather sets in. His service area is somewhat limited to South Kalamazoo County. His advice to motorists is to drive on major highways, at least in winter weather because MDOT takes care of the Interstates and U.S. 131 so well. Cars have a better chance of getting help than they do on the back roads, he advises. It has been too difficult to keep the county roads plowed with the wind coming right along behind the county plow trucks, filling the roads back in as fast as they can be scraped.
The business is celebrating its 20th year in 2014 with four employees and looking for two more to hire in the repair shop Kim Parker says.