Wes Ward Auto Repair Celebrates Special Anniversary | Company
Wes Ward has the perfect last name to operate an auto repair business because Ward means to keep and protect. Thousands of customers would attest to this description of the St. Johnsbury operation. Ward has been repairing vehicles in the Northeast Kingdom for 40 years, but the work of Wes and his wife and co-owner, Paula, goes far beyond repairing cars and getting them back on the road.
“They care so much about the community,” said marketing coordinator Janet Lumbra, who has been with the company since 1999. “You have no idea.”
This month, the couple were praised for coming to the aid of a 78-year-old woman with a flat tire, after the two closed their store for the weekend. A St. Johnsbury Police Officer contacted the Wards for advice on what to do, and the Wards not only left their family and came to fix his tire, but gave him a brief lesson on how to use their cell phone.
“It’s one of the hundred things that makes St. Johnsbury special and it’s yet another demonstration of Wes and Paula’s generosity,” said Sgt. Lester Cleary of the Police Department. “Today they were angels to this sweet little lady. I love you for everything you do for this community and those who pass through it. “
Such a love of community can almost eclipse the incredible accomplishment Wes has achieved in this month, 40 years of activity. Wes will be the first to tell you that there have been bumps in the road, certainly not due to his repairs, but the challenges of enduring two major recessions and a pandemic. The Wards’ ability to change and evolve their store over time has made it a staple of Portland Street, with their large American flag fluttering proudly at the entrance.
The business wasn’t always Wes Ward Auto Repair, with Wes’ first rental space at the Bedard gas station in 1981. For a short time, he moved his business to his Danville home, with a lot of these customers are still customers to this day. An opportunity presented itself when Sumner Tire moved out of the Portland Street location, and Wes jumped at the opportunity to have a full-service store in the heart of St. Johnsbury. Since 1999, Wes Ward Auto has resided at 1193 Portland St.
Longtime store service editors Wes and Paula made a point of providing excellent customer service as well as exceptional vehicle repairs, and their efforts have been noticed. The boutique has been recognized several times as the AAA Independent Shop of the Year, with pricing based solely on customer recommendations and testimonials. The company offers six auto repair shops and two truck repair shops.
“As important as it is to get the car back on the road, you have to see past the vehicle and realize that there is a grandparent, parent, child or sibling in this car,” said Wes. “We really treat our clients like family. We are very concerned about their safety.
When we reached out to Wes this week he was busy in the shop fixing a vehicle, but when not in a service area he and Paula made it a point to help their area. Wes has long served on the board of directors of the Northeast Kingdom Chamber, served twice as president, and received the organization’s Citizen of the Year award in 2015 for his outstanding commitment to the region. He is also a longtime Kiwanian, mentor and ad litem tutor. Paula has been co-chair of one of the region’s largest fundraisers since 2005, the Caledonia Relay for Life.
“We might be a business, but we run with our heart,” Paula said. “We try to give back to our customers, the community and the region, who have given us so much. We are extremely grateful for the support we have received over our years of activity. Some of our clients have been with us from the start.
It makes you wonder what a full-service auto repair shop really means, and that basically involves working on a vehicle from bumper to bumper. This includes oil changes, tune-ups, service / maintenance, diagnostics, fluid flushes, air conditioning systems, alignments and, yes, even flat tires, as well as a host of larger repair issues. They work on imported and domestic vehicles and trucks.
“We try to stay on the cutting edge of technology, providing cutting edge, premium service and repairs because our customers deserve the best of us,” Wes said. “If you haven’t figured it out yet, we really love what we’re doing.”
For more information, contact Neighborhoods at 802-748-3636 or email [email protected]
Darcie McCann is Executive Director of the Northeast Kingdom Chamber of Commerce.