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Loss of mechanics may force longtime auto repair shop to close

  • The Wichita Eagle
  • Published Friday, Dec. 27, 2013, at 6:31 a.m.

Photos

Long a landmark at the intersection of Central and I-235, Bob Dulohery’s Alignment, Service and Repair may be closing.

“The good Lord gave me this in 1978 and for some reason, we’re losing a couple of key people, and maybe he’s telling me it is time to get out,” said Dulohery, 73.

Dulohery purchased the building, originally a Derby service station that belonged to Shamrock Tire and Oil, and added some service stalls for his shop. Since that day, he said, he has operated his business on honesty.

“I will not stand for people putting on parts that are not necessary,” he said.

That made for loyal customers, which is one reason he doesn’t want to shut the business down completely.

“We are going to put this business up for sale or lease,” Dulohery said. “If for some reason, I would wind up with a couple of good mechanics … I just might open it back up, simply for the fact I hate to walk away from a good business and some mighty loyal customers.”

He started as a mechanic six decades ago, in the days when motors were motors and not plastic parts and a myriad of computer chips. He built his first motorized vehicle from a reel-type power lawn mower, a collection of 2-by-4s and some wagon wheels.

“It didn’t go very fast, but it would climb a hill because of the way it was geared,” Dulohery recalled. “It would go up anybody’s driveway. …

“All the neighborhood kids got to drive it and ride on it. We could pull bicycles, kids and wagons.”

His shop on West Central is an old-school mechanic’s haven. It is not high-tech, gleaming chrome with flat-screen TVs on the wall. This is a place where people work, and it smells of grease and oil.

A sign on the wall reads “Trust me, I’m a mechanic.”

He’s never had any fancy decorators come in and fix up the shop. He does have a goldfish pond he installed 20 years ago with a dozen goldfish still swimming around. Originally, he designed the pond to keep his tropical plants in the winter but there never was really enough light for the plants to thrive.

On three walls of his shop is a wrap-around shelf near the ceiling. On it, he has placed hundreds of Pepsi cans lined up three rows deep. He has cans from Egypt, Russia, Germany, Brazil, Chile and Saudi Arabia.

“When I noticed the cans changing some 30 years ago, I put up every one of the cans,” Dulohery said. “I collected them. I don’t know if they are worth anything.”

His shop is set to close Tuesday, unless he finds a couple of good mechanics.

But he is adamant. They must have two qualifications: be honest and not drink.

“I have built this business that way and am not going to change,” he said. “I could train somebody else to run the shop for me. I’d be glad to do that.

“But they have to be honest or they won’t last long. … I want things done the way I’d do it.”

Reach Beccy Tanner at 316-268-6336 or btanner@wichitaeagle.com. Follow her on Twitter: @beccytanner.

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