Newfoundland NAPA Autopro location, Foxtrap Automotive celebrates 50 years of protecting families
The owners of Foxtrap Automotive in Conception Bay South, N.L., are all about family – and they consider their customers to be exactly that.
In fact, a half century ago, Eldred Kennedy was “a long-time customer” of the garage he now owns. Eldred took over Foxtrap from a generous man named Richard Porter, who gave him a big “hand up” to help him make his dreams of starting his own business and having a family come true.
“I was a loyal customer, but he’s no relation whatsoever,” recalled Eldred, who is now 75 but at that time was a young man who stopped by the garage regularly on his way to and from working at “a mechanical shop in town.” Eldred loved the satisfaction of working with his hands to fix something and hoped to open up his own garage one day.
“And one evening coming home, getting off work, I pulled in to get some gas, and he called me in the office and asked me if I wanted to go into business.”
In fact, the former Foxtrap owner helped the new one get his business motoring by buying enough supplies and gas for the young aspiring mechanic to set up shop “and the rest is history.”
“I couldn’t believe the offer that he gave me,” Eldred said of the man he still calls “Mr. Porter.”
“All I had to do was put a lot of hard work into it.”
And he has done exactly that for the past 50 years. Eldred now runs Foxtrap Automotive, a NAPA Autopro Garage, with his son Darrell Kennedy, while granddaughter Danielle Kennedy helps out in the office.
Just as Mr. Porter looked after his customers, including of course Eldred, the Kennedys are committed to taking care of their own customers.
“I always liked the slogan ‘the road ahead,’ ” Eldred explained. “We’re going to protect you and your family on the road ahead.”
Foxtrap Automotive has now been protecting families for the past five decades. Eldred was able to establish his shop’s well-known reputation for high-quality service mostly “by word of mouth.” Now, customers from different generations of the same families keep returning because they know they can trust their vehicles with the Kennedys.
“When you get repeat customers that you’ve dealt with, and their children are still coming, it makes you feel good,” Eldred said. “It makes you feel like you’re doing something right.”
Nestled on Foxtrap Access Road, about 20 kilometres from St. John’s, the family-owned garage has become a Newfoundland staple both inside and outside of its own community.
“We get a lot of people from all around,” Eldred said. “With over 50 years, and if you treat your customers good you’re going to have a good return.”
Not only do people come from everywhere, but Foxtrap Automotive does “almost everything,” Eldred said.
“Everything pertaining to mechanical, like tune-ups and wheel alignments,” he said, adding that “in years gone by we used to do a lot of radiators, but there’s not much of that work on the go now… but not so much in new cars now.”
Foxtrap Automotive also does “brakes, front-ends, exhausts, struts, shocks and oil changes– we do all of that, and also sell a lot of tires.”
Eldred and his family have another project this year: organizing their 50th anniversary celebration. In addition to his co-owner son Darrell, the festivities will include Eldred’s wife, Marion, eldest son Darren, daughter Danna, and their grandchildren.
“Coming up in the latter part of May is when we’re hoping to celebrate,” Eldred said. “We’re looking forward to it; we’re upbeat about it.”
Although it still might be tough to hold a party at that time due to COVID-19 restrictions, the Kennedys plan to have prizes “to give back to the loyal customers we’ve had over the past 50 years” – just like Mr. Porter gave back to his own customers.
Customers have continued to remain true to Foxtrap through the pandemic. In fact, it’s been busy, said Eldred, who has passed on the strong values he learned when he was young to his own staff.
“What I like about them is if they took one of their family member’s cars they’d work on the car same as if it was their own,” Eldred said. “And that’s what I want; they take pride in their work.”
Although Mr. Porter has since passed away, the business values he passed on to Eldred clearly remain very much with the shop he passed on to Eldred and the rest of the Kennedy clan.
“You need trust and honesty in order to build a relationship,” Eldred said. “That was my belief; and it still is today.”
The kind of relationship Mr. Porter established with the then-young Eldred.“It was a lifelong dream of mine to go into business, but I didn’t exp