The Lahave Street Auto Clinic team in Bridgewater, NS takes care of each other and their clientBy Kristen Lipscombe
Jason Knickle loves going to work every day at Lahave Street Auto Clinic in Bridgewater, N.S., because of the people he gets to work alongside each and every day.
“My favourite part is interacting with the clients,” the 41-year-old operations manager said of what he looks forward to most while on the job, running the NAPA AUTOPRO shop alongside his business partner Richard Knickle, who as you can guess by the last name, also happens to be his father. “Just talking with them and hearing their stories and getting to know them on a personal level,” Jason said of his daily highlight. “Every day is different.” Clients and customers have always been top priority for the family-run shop, which opened its doors more than three decades ago, in December 1989. That’s when Jason first started learning the business from his father as a 10-year-old kid taking it all in from the start.
“You do everything you can with your client in mind,” Jason said, adding the highest quality customer service and attention to detail possible is of the utmost importance to Lahave Street Auto Clinic. “We really focus on taking care of their best interests and not padding your pocket.” “You have to be honest and you have to explain things properly,” Jason said. “Honesty and customer service are what we bank on and what we strive for,” he said, adding “we have such a strong team, and such a hardworking team, that we can get a lot of work done.
We can get stuff done that a lot of other shops can’t accommodate.” Some of the company’s success also stems from Jason’s hiatus away from the shop. He pursued a career with the Canadian Armed Forces for five years, during which time he studied mechanical engineering at the Royal Military College of Canada in Kingston, Ont., and then moved back to his home province to earn a business diploma at Nova Scotia Community College.
After working a few odd sales jobs, Jason was ready to bring his new expertise and knowledge back to the family business. “I wanted to learn the things needed to help make the business grow,” he said. “I think I brought a different perspective to the business.” And that he did. In fact, since he returned to work at the family shop in fall 2011, Lahave Street Auto Clinic has “grown year over year,” particularly over the past five years, with major renovations that doubled the number of auto bays on site from two to four, and grown staff numbers significantly to a total of seven full-time employees, including five mechanics.
“We can take care of our clients from A-to-Z, and we can … do it in a good time frame,” Jason said. “We have a good mix of regular clients. We have a number of fleets that we maintain as well and that always keeps the bay doors opening and closing. “There’s not just one type of client that we help; we take care of everyone.” That also includes many families in the small town who rely on Lahave Street Auto Clinic for car services ranging from maintenance to repairs. “Oil change time at the best service station on the South Shore, in my opinion,” wrote one happy customer on the auto clinic’s Facebook page. “That time again – great service at Lahave NAPA AUTOPRO – car tune-up and inspection,” reads another comment.
Such comments are very much thanks to the shop’s employees who service everything from fleets to individuals and families. Staff members are also truly key to the business’s growth and success, which is actually continuing through the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Jason emphasized. “We all get along really well,” he said of his fellow Lahave Street workers, who he sees more as team members. “We just have fun together; a lot of laughs, a lot of sharing. At the end of July, one of my guy’s bought a new house, and all of my guys went to help him on a Thursday night after work; worked all day and then went and helped him move 50 kilometres away from where he was.
“It says a lot about the team we have and the team we’ve built here, and the culture – looking after each other.” Looking after his employees, just like his clients, is vital to the Knickle family business. “Your employees’ well-beings; if you take care of that, the work takes care of itself,” Jason said. “You have to take care of your staff and their families and your family.”
“You have to make sure you take care of your people,” he said. “It’s about service above self.” Visit the Lahave Street Auto Clinic on the NAPA AUTOPRO website: napaautopro.com.