Owners Darcy and Kathy Lapointe
For a quarter of a century, Watkinsville Service Center has been servicing cars and trucks in Oconee County, but beyond just building a successful business, owners Darcy and Kathy Lapointe have also been building lifelong relationships with their customers.
On any given day, the parking lot outside of Watkinsville Service Center is full of cars and trucks waiting to be serviced, and the front lobby of the business is often crowded with customers, many of whom will stay for a while to chat.
Though Watkinsville Service Center is certainly bigger now, it’s not entirely different from the Texaco station on Main Street where Darcy and Kathy got their start in July of 1991. Kathy admits that when they made the decision to buy the full-service gas station and repair shop in 1991 it wasn’t without some trepidation.
“It was super scary,” Kathy said. “But we felt like it was the right thing to do for us. Our children were small, our daughter was just a baby, and I was able to bring her to work with me. If they were sick I was able to be home with them, and it just worked.”
The Texaco station was still a full-service gas station, and through those constant interactions with customers, Darcy was able to build his auto repair business.
“People trusted Darcy, and I think that was a huge factor in how we were able to grow bigger and bigger,” Kathy said.
Watkinsville Service Center stayed in the same location on Main Street in downtown Watkinsville for nine years, leasing the Texaco station from another company. When that company decided to sell all its stations, Darcy and Kathy decided it was time to expand their growing business. Rather than buy that station, they bought property off Greensboro Highway just south of downtown Watkinsville, and there they built a 6-bay auto repair center.
Their customers came with them
"We have some awesome customers, and they are a big part of why we’re still here,” Kathy said. “We know almost everybody when they come in the door. Darcy is a people person, and he always keeps people’s best interests at heart, and our customers recognize that. We never sell them what they don’t need.”
Darcy Lapointe got his start as an auto mechanic in his home country of Canada. He attended technical college there and apprenticed as an automotive mechanic. In 1985, when Kathy was pregnant with their first child, they decided to move to Oconee County. Kathy’s family was living in the area, and Darcy and Kathy both believed it would be a good place to raise their children.
For Darcy and Kathy, Watkinsville Service Center is part of their family. Their kids grew up in the business. Many of their customers have been with them for two decades, and the children of customers are customers now, too.
They also manage to attract and keep good mechanics. In a high-turnover industry, the techs at Watkinsville Service Center often stay for several years.
“Auto mechanics sometimes have a bad reputation,” Kathy noted. “Not everybody is trustworthy, but it’s important to Darcy to be the trustworthy guy and not do things that are less than honest. Our customers know Darcy as an honest person who will always advise people as to what’s in their best interest. Darcy does not over-sell people. He gives them the best possible service at the best price.”