The vehicles may have changed over the past 90 years but the customer service has remained consistent at Timmins Garage.
The Chevrolet, Buick and GMC dealership retains 80 per cent of the people who buy a vehicle to come back for servicing.
The national average is about 35 to 40 per cent.
Incorporated in 1927 but established prior to 1920, the business first sold vehicles such as the Hudson and Essex.
By 1925, it was selling Chevrolets. “It's a third generation business,” said owner Jim Mascioli. “I have a son in automotive school and another who is talking about coming here as well so then it will be fourth generation.”
Jim's grandfather, Tony, became involved in the business after following his brother Leo from Italy to Timmins.
Leo also established a construction business – Mascioli Construction – which is currently run by Jim's brother.
In addition to building houses in the early days of that business, Leo went on to build the Empire Hotel in Timmins, North Bay and Sault Ste. Marie, along with bowling alleys and theatres throughout the North.
Tony eventually acquired the construction business which was subsequently run, along with the garage, by Jim's father.
“The garage moved a few times before being established here (Riverside Drive),” Jim said. “My dad bought land here in the mid-1970s and we opened in 1977.
The mall had just been built the summer before.
There was not much here then business-wise in the west end.” Currently, the west end of Timmins is home to several businesses, including major retailers who have opened box stores in the area.
The current facility had been added on to four times over the years and currently a new adjacent building is under construction which will almost double the current space.
It is one of the largest GMC dealerships north of Toronto.
“We are hoping in August or September to move equipment into the new building. By October, we will be fully moved in and then the current building will be demolished. One last portion has to be added on but it can't be built until the old one is gone,” Jim said.
With the additional space and extra service bays, the business wants to hire more licensed mechanics and apprentices.
Currently there is a staff of about 60 people.
“Our sales and support staff has increased. We are really busy,” he said.
Finding skilled tradespeople has been an ongoing problem for decades since the licensed mechanics are often enticed by the mines.
“We are a feeder system to the mining sector. We grow them for other people,” Jim said. “But if I can get a guy licensed and provide job opportunities and maybe a 10-year commitment from someone, we will get them on to their next career and unfortunately, that is the way I have to look at it now. We have good people in our shop but the mines chase them. Any mining community is like that.”
But despite the challenges, the company's mantra of honesty and taking care of the customer has been a mainstay of the business since the beginning.
“We are not perfect by any means but we do try to do a good job. I try to hire people who are honest and treat customers the way they want to be treated.
As a result, about 80 per cent of the people who buy vehicles from us come back to us for service,” he said.
Timmins Garage has customers who are also multigenerational and it has sold vehicles to those from across the country, in the U.S. and overseas.
It can be a difficult business, Jim said, and very demanding.
“You can wait two months for a doctor's appointment and wait six hours or more in emergency but God forbid that you have to book a car appointment two weeks in advance and wait 30 minutes for an oil change,” he said.
“But we are dealing with a product that has 40,000 parts and a climate and roads that aren't always the best. People rely on their cars and want their vehicles now so we try to accommodate everyone.
“But it is fun and every day is different. I have been here 31 years and could never see myself anywhere else.”