The Unionville Garage had its origins in the car culture of the 60’s. Everything to do with cars was “cool” then. There were plenty of opportunities to be around cars. Gas stations were hangouts and cruising Manners was a ritual. Before getting my own car, building small scale plastic models and reading hot Rod magazine kept the fire burning. Going to the drag races was another impetus to start tinkering with real cars. So I did. Dad didn’t mind me washing, waxing and checking tires and fluids and stuff, so when the opportunity came to apply to the Lake County vocational School )now the Auburn Career Center) I jumped at it. I was actually quite the automotive virgin, compared to most of the other kids, but my study habits were pretty good and I discovered I had some aptitude for understanding these, what I thought at the time, complex, mysterious machines.
I was hooked and worked one summer for Lester Erbacher in Madison Village. The Erbacher name was well respected in automotive circles at the time and some tricks and tips were gleaned there. Next year I was able to work at the Madison Shell station run by Chad Tate. A lot of local racers and hot rodders hung around there and thoughts of owning my own place began to take shape.
Then the most significant circumstances occurred when the Sunoco station across the street got new owners. The most beautiful girl I’d ever seen in my life was pumping gas over there. I figured out that I was on the wrong side of the street and started thinking of ways to get next to that girl. Fred Janssen was the proprietor and his daughter was the girl. Working at the Sunoco was the best thing that ever happened to me because Fred let me have a lot of freedom in making repair decisions. I blended parts of all my work experience and people experience together and formulated a system. The fuel crisis in the early 70’s led to a break from the gas station and a move to Unionville to establish Janssen’s auto Service in 1977. A very serendipitous move. Little, out of the way, off the beaten path Unionville is a charming crossroads. It has proven to be my Nirvana, my heaven.
In 1991 Fred retired and I bought the place and named it the Unionville Garage. Not long after, I ran into that beautiful girl and persuaded her that we belonged together, all along. I had no idea I could be THAT persuasive. For over 20 years now the Unionville Garage has tried it’s best to see to the automotive needs of whoever crosses it’s threshold. Doing business in the same town that you grew up in and doing it, as of now, for over 40 years has been a most gratifying experience. The friendships I’ve made are the most gratifying of all. As for the cars… well let’s just say the challenges afforded me, almost daily, have begun to lose some of their attraction. The complexity and sophistication of the newest automobiles is mind boggling. I have always done my best but as Dirty Harry put it “…a man’s gotta know his limitations…” If it wasn’t for the people that come into my place, I might just look for something else to do, you see, I HATE CARS, but I love people. Bless everybody who has put up with me all these years, I love you all.