Bracken Auto Services closes garage doors
The steel workbench at the back of Bracken Auto Services is splattered with dark grease stains from past auto projects, but on Tuesday a new oily substance joined the mix: cod juice and beef kebabs. More than a dozen friends and close customers gathered for a barbecue in honor of Sean Bracken, owner of the auto repair shop, on the eve of his departure for a new auto career in East Bay.
“It’s a sad separation,” said Mr. Bracken, a Novato resident who ran the Greenbridge Gas & Auto store at Point Reyes Station for 12 years. “It was good for me, but my family pressured me to move on and let go of the stress.”
Working on cars has been a long-standing passion for the Dublin native who found his calling as a youngster repairing his brother’s motorbike in their garage. Their father, an engineer, passed on his interest in mechanics.
Mr. Bracken worked as an accountant for a wine importing company in Dublin before moving to California in 1986. He obtained an Associate’s degree in Automotive Mechanics from the College of Marin and his first job was to maintain a fleet of 1,800 vehicles for one car. rental service in San Rafael.
In 2004, Mr. Bracken responded to an ad on Craigslist for the Point Reyes Station garage, creating Bracken Auto Services.
Mr Bracken said it was a shaky start, but fondly recalled one of his first clients: Ilka Hartmann from Bolinas. “I like to say that I have kept his car running for 12 years,” he said.
He said Subarus has turned out to be the most common vehicle in the store, and Volkswagens are the toughest.
Rick Clarke of Point Reyes Station has been a customer for years. “Sean has always been very candid with me,” he said. “They’re great characters here, and it’s been a fun part of West Marin for me.”
Nacole Borg-Vongehr, Mr. Bracken’s only employee, has worked as a mechanic at Bracken Auto for five years. She calls Mr. Bracken a “boss” and says he allowed her to work while she pursued an associate’s degree in automotive technology. “He taught me in more than one way,” she said. “He believed in me.
Mr. Bracken will soon be starting a new job with MobilityWorks of Oakland, a company specializing in serving people with disabilities with wheelchair accessible minivans, vans with elevators and commercial vehicles. He said he was happy to let go of his responsibilities as an owner and focus on repairs. “Someone else will diagnose the problem and I will fix it,” he said.
As for the garage’s future, Mark Reano, owner of Greenbridge Gas & Auto, said “things are kind of in the air”.