October 29, 2014
By Carol Thompson
TRAVERSE CITY — Vintage wall displays and an old gas pump decorate the powder blue waiting room at Dave’s Garage, where customers hold mugs of coffee and await car repairs.
Monday was the first day of new ownership for the 20-year-old business on Hastings Street in Traverse City. Craig Olvey and Jamie LaFerriere purchased the auto repair shop from founder Dave Karczewski, who is taking a year off to spend time with his grandchildren.
“He has a sterling reputation around town,” LaFerriere said. “Every person we talk to that comes in here has been a customer for a long time. It’s wonderful.”
LaFerriere has worked in the automotive industry for 22 years, Olvey for 17. They worked together at Bill Marsh Auto Group in Traverse City, where LaFerriere was service director and Olvey was General Motors parts manager.
They decided to go full-throttle into car repair, and wanted the freedom that comes with owning and running a garage. Olvey said owning a shop means they don’t have to bow to manufacturer guidelines like dealerships do.
“At a dealership you’re constantly having to get customers in, get them out,” he said. “This gives us a lot more opportunity for that personal touch.”
Karczewski said customer service helped him collect returning customers at Dave’s Garage. He does a full inspection of all cars that come in and makes sure customers are informed about their cars.
“I know what it’s like to be on the other side of the counter,” Karczewski said. “We have that empathy.”
Olvey and LaFerriere started selling and installing tires on their first day running Dave’s Garage, but don’t plan to make any other major changes to the business.