Mr. T Retires: Sells Auto Repair Business After 38 Years In Mashpee | Mashpee News
After 38 years of car maintenance at Mr. T’s Auto Repair on Route 130 in Mashpee, Terry Trottier and his wife, Heidi Trottier, sold the business to new owners who will continue the auto repair business under a new one. name: Mashpee Automotive.
“I am delighted that there is still an auto repair shop,” said Mr. Trottier.
The Trottiers live in Sandwich.
The new owners, Robert Rotondi Sr. and his son, Robert Rotondi Jr., actively visited the repair shop on Tuesday, August 3. In the refrigerator in the rest room was an unopened bottle of champagne, which Mr. and Mrs. Trottier reserved for August 13, their last day at the store.
But their retirement has already started.
“This is my fourth day of retirement and, as they say, it is the happiest day of my life, every day,” said Mr. Trottier with a smile on his face.
“If these walls could speak”
In 1983, when Mr. Trottier and his future wife bought the old barricaded gas station on Route 130, or Main Street, in Mashpee, only one incandescent bulb hung from the ceiling, he said.
After four years in the Coast Guard and seven years working his way up from technician to service manager at Tracy Volkswagen in Hyannis, Mr. Trottier decided he wanted to be self-employed.
“I spent all the time there; everything was barricaded, ”he said. “We took it out of the old days, into an elevator and power and pneumatic tools.”
In 1984, Mr. Trottier and Mrs. Trottier got married.
The first winter at Mr. T’s Auto, the building had no heating or insulation, and ice was forming on the floor while they were working.
“We lived in a barn for a long time,” Ms. Trottier said.
What is now the break room was in 1983 “the neighborhood meeting place because it was the center of town; it’s Main Street over there, ”said Mr. Trottier, referring to Route 130.
The couple installed new doors, windows and wiring themselves, fixing the place as they went.
When Mr. T’s Auto first opened, “it was really about word of mouth and keeping customers happy and coming back and telling more customers about it,” Mr. Trottier said.
“It has been our success here,” he said. “Good job in the automotive industry, the word is out. “
Over the years, the town of Mashpee has grown around Mr. T’s, growing from a population of around 3,700 in 1980 to over 15,000 today. More traffic filled Route 130, and homes and businesses transformed the landscape.
“Families started moving into the city, so you brought in the family population, and then all of a sudden it became a very industrial park,” Ms. Trottier said. “If those walls could talk, that would be quite the book, I think, because 38 years is a long time.”
As a reminder, Mr. and Mrs. Trottier recalled the stories of the many customers who have gone through Mr. T’s Auto Repair.
Some stories were cheerful: Mr Trottier told the story of a customer who had a hard time but returned years later to pay his bill, and Ms Trottier, laughing, recalled an old woman from Popponesset banging his cane on the ground “like she was the monarchy or something.”
Other stories, like the time Mr. and Mrs. Trottier rushed to the scene of an accident directly in front of Mr. T’s Auto, were more moving.
“My husband held her hand,” Ms. Trottier said, recalling the crash. “It was probably the most emotional that we have been here because it happened right outside the front door.”
“One step better”
As Mr. and Mrs. Trottier commissioned Mr. T’s Auto Repair, Ms. Trottier became a member of the local chamber of commerce. She would later be president of the Mashpee and Sandwich Chambers of Commerce.
“I think that was our greatest strength,” Ms. Trottier said. “Just be part of the community.”
Over the years, the couple have watched the area’s children grow up to be clients and become more involved in community activities. At the Mashpee Room, Ms. Trottier helped organize the “Night of 100 Wines” and participated in the annual Christmas Parade.
When a Mashpee resident died in a head-on collision just three days after his wife gave birth to a child, around the same time Mr. and Mrs. Trottier’s great-grandson was born, Mr. T’s organized a baby drive and a lemonade stand to help support the family.
“They were born almost the same day in the hospital, and I said, ‘We have to do something for this family,’” recalls Ms. Trottier. “I never knew the magnitude of what that would create.”
Donations filled Mr. T’s garage and the lemonade stand run by Ms. Trottier’s nephew and other local children raised over $ 1,200 for the family.
Last year, in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, Ms. Trottier launched a ‘mitten tree’ fundraiser that raised gift cards for Mashpee families in need.
“I think if you can just be a better step for the community, you will always be a supporting business in the eyes of the community,” Ms. Trottier said.
‘The next chapter’
Mr Trottier said he started thinking about retirement about two years ago, when he had time to think, due to a hip replacement.
“It took me over two years to convince my wife,” he said. “Thirty-eight is a good race.”
Over the years, automobiles have changed. Vehicles have moved from carburetors to fuel injection, and as new owners take over, electric vehicles are on the horizon, Mr. Trottier said.
Still, “38 years seemed to pass,” Ms. Trottier said. “I never thought that when we started we would be here for this long. “
“This is the next chapter in our aging life,” she said. “We can kind of just sit back and enjoy some of the things that we’ve missed: barbecues and being with great-grandchildren and watching them grow up. “
Mr Trottier said he was refurbishing a 1977 Seacraft that he hopes to use in retirement, and Ms Trottier said she plans to spend time in her backyard. The couple own a place in Florida they can go to for a few months, but when people ask, “Where are you going to go?” Mrs. Trottier always answers: “Forestdale”.
“This is where I go every night,” she said. “You’ll always see us doing stuff; we will always be active, volunteers.
Mr. Trottier hopes to remain active with the local branch of the Elks and continue his work on the advisory board of the Upper Cape Cod Regional Technical School, where he heads the automotive department.
Ms Trottier said she will continue to work with the Sandwich Chamber and hopes to host the Mitten Tree fundraiser again this year.
The couple have two adult daughters, six grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.
“They’re only waiting because Papa T has a little fishing boat,” Trottier said of his great-grandchildren. “So they’re waiting for Papa T to come down with his boat.”
As for the new owners, “they have a lot to learn as this is their first rodeo to be in business as a father and son,” said Mr. Trottier.
He noted that the young Mr. Rotondi has a 10-year-old son, Elijah, who “is like a magnet for his father”. (“This profession is a nurtured profession,” he said of the auto industry.)
Although he will no longer be called Mr. T’s, Mr. Trottier said he hopes the Rotondi family will keep the auto shop for 30 years, so the building, which is in the historic Mashpee district , will be 100 years old.
“It’s nice to see, maybe, some kind of passing the torch, when Rob is our age and his son probably works here,” Mr. Trottier said.
Longtime second-hand owners in Popponesset, the young Mr. Rotondi said: “We have always wanted to move to Cape Town.
“I can tell you that my second son, Elijah, is very excited; he was here yesterday, ”he said.
“I’m trying to take over the store,” added Mr. Rotondi, older. “It’s going to be an exciting time for all of us; I think we are up to the task and we are in awe of the clients Terry and Heidi have.