In Good Hands

A Co-op employee shared a great story with me recently, one that reminded me how lucky we are to have our Co-op Service Center.

When the employee was a child, his father took the family on a cross-country drive. This was more than 40 years ago, back in the day when every gas station had mechanics on duty who would fill up your car, wash your windshield, check the engine, and so on.

On a warm, late-summer morning, under a big, blue western sky, the family stopped at a small town in Wyoming for gas. The family car, a monolithic station wagon with fake wood paneling and dusty Virginia license plates, was clearly from out of town.

The mechanic on duty looked at the motor and said the fan belt should be replaced immediately. “You’re in luck,” the mechanic said. “I just happen to have one in stock and can do it for you right now.”

The father was suspicious, but he didn’t know a bad fan belt from a good one. He looked at the faces of his wife and children, thought about the long drive ahead, and decided to play it safe. He authorized the repair under one condition: He wanted the old fan belt once the job was done.

A few hours later, at another small town, the family once again stopped for gas. As usual, there was a mechanic on duty, so the father approached him.

“Can I ask you a question?” the father asked, handing the mechanic the old fan belt. “What’s wrong with this?”

The mechanic took the belt, inspected it briefly, and handed it back.

“I can tell you exactly what’s wrong with it,” he said, smiling. “Nothing.”

The family had fallen victim to a well-known tourist trap.

Unfortunately, service stations are still notorious for this sort of thing. But our Service Center is different. Adjacent to the Hanover food store, the station has been a part of the Co-op family since 1985. Customers often tell us they won’t take their vehicle anywhere else. To many, it’s the only station they trust.

What’s the secret to our “trust factor?” People. Many of our Service Center staff are long-time employees who know their customers by name and who have cared for their vehicles for years. These employees not only fix cars, they also teach classes, give advice, write for our blog, and run an environmentally responsible operation. Our Service Center was the first station in the area to offer freon recycling. The station also recycles motor oil, oil filters, antifreeze, automotive batteries, and tires.

This time of year, when many of us are putting on snow tires, winterizing our cars, and planning long holiday drives to visit family and friends, I wanted to thank a quiet, conscientious group of people who have been caring for our communities for many years. My thanks to everyone at our Service Center for running a station we can trust. Want to learn more about our Co-op’s trust factor? Reach out to me anytime. My door is always open to you.

—Ed Fox

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Ed Fox

Ed Fox is the Co-op General Manager. To contact, email

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