Bridgewater auto repair has become a true “one-stop-shop” with addition of Novus GlassBy Kristen Lipscombe
Coming up with the clever business name for Bridgewater Auto Repair, or BAR for short, came naturally for owner Glenn Toope.
“I always say that we set the BAR for higher standards,” Toope said of the philosophy behind his growing business, which he and wife Jeanette Joudrey established in June 2019 and features franchises for TECHNET Professional Automotive Service, Krown Rust Control and, most recently, NOVUS Glass.
NOVUS Glass Bridgewater has become the most recent company to open its doors on Dufferin Street, joining Toope’s group of bands just this past June and helping turn his fresh take on the automotive repair centre into a true “one-stop shop” for all your vehicle needs.
In fact, the new NOVUS Glass location is the company’s first mobile franchise in Atlantic Canada. That means employees can meet customers at home, work or anywhere else they may require efficient and effective service, getting them back on the road conveniently, safely and as soon as possible.
“We’re thrilled to have the NOVUS Glass brand become the newest member of the BAR team,” Toope said, citing the company’s long history of top-notch service, patented technology and and its lifetime guarantee, which make makes NOVUS “the clear choice” for customers.
NOVUS Glass lays claim to inventing windshield repair almost 50 years ago and continuing to innovate glass repair and products. “With proprietary resins, tools and techniques, windshields are restored to the highest level of optical clarity in the business, out-performing all others in chip and long crack repairs – often over 12” long – with limited lifetime guarantees,” the company says.
“We chose NOVUS Glass because it’s the best in the business, leading the way in glass repair and replacement technology,” Toope said.
“We need competition in the glass industry and in the community as a whole. This opportunity will enable us to grow in the region and offer our experienced staff a chance to work with leading-edge windshield repair technology.”
Whether with business names or car parts, 55-year-old Toope has always been tooling around.
Mechanics also came quite naturally to the Cornerbrook, N.L., native, who moved to Bridgewater as a youngster and took a quick liking to taking things apart and putting them back together again.
“I’ve always been fixing stuff, ever since I was a kid,” Toope told Auto and Trucking Atlantic by phone, sharing a hearty laugh as he recalled his childhood. “I was always known to my mom as Mr. Fix It.”
“I’d be tearing my bikes apart, and buying motorcycles and tearing them apart at 12 years old,” he said, “and was tearing cars apart at 15 years old and rebuilding engines.”
“I’ve owned so many cars in my life it’s unreal,” Toope said with a continued chuckle, “from a Ladda to a brand new Corvette.”
His red 2019 Chevrolet Corvette is the most recent addition to his personal fleet of vehicles, which also includes a Nissan 370Z Roadster Convertible, a couple of pick-up trucks and a few others that may differ depending on what other wheels on the market might spark his interest.
Toope feels fortunate that his personal passion for vehicles extends to his profession and like everything else he has built, from bikes and cars, to various other careers and businesses which have included running a service station, working as a marine technician and teaching at trade schools, he has put his whole heart into Bridgewater Auto Repair.
He wants it to become “the go-to place” for his community. “I want people to be proud to bring their vehicle here, and not think they are going to be taken,” Toope said of battling stereotypes of mechanics taking advantage of naïve customers by adding on unnecessary parts and charges.
“I can always tell you what you need, but I’m not going to force someone to put something on your vehicle; it’s up to you at the end of the day,” Toope said. “If I tell you your brakes are bad, I have no problem showing you your brakes are bad and how they actually work.”
“I even have a computer program on the TV that I can bring up so that I can show you the operation of the brakes,” he explained. “A lot of people like to understand how things work.”
Toope’s teaching skills, which he honed for about four years at the College of the North Atlantic in Newfoundland and Labrador and Nova Scotia Community College, come out daily as he explains how car parts work to curious customers and mentors younger workers in his shop.
He hopes going above and beyond like that will help build a sense of mutual respect and trust with his clients to keep them coming back for the high quality and wide variety of “bumper-to-bumper” services offered right on site at Bridgewater Auto Repair.
He also wants his place of work to be welcoming to new and old customers alike. He and his wife Jeanette, who serves as accountant, have owned the building for five years.
“The way I designed my shop inside was to make it like a home,” Toope said. “Not like a garage; like a home.” “So when you walk in my entrance, you don’t see a bunch of car parts here, there and everywhere. You see colours from a house and new windows,” he described.
“And everything in here is transparent, so you can see our technicians working in the bays, whether it be under-coating, doing an alignment, and now watching a crack or chip repair, you can sit there and watch them through the door or windows.”
Customers can also sit down in a nice, spiffy lounge and enjoy a hot coffee or tea while watching television, or perhaps reading a copy of Auto and Trucking Atlantic magazine, while their vehicle is being serviced.
Toope likes to keep his shop sparkling clean, from the lobby to the toilets. “The way I look at it is, ‘would that be a bathroom that my mother would like to use?’ “
“I’ve got people coming in saying, ‘that’s the cleanest bathroom I’ve ever been in!” he said, again punctuated with a friendly laugh. “There are not a lot of smelly parts, if you understand what I mean.”
Another stereotype Toope wants to break down is his business being called “a garage.”
“I want to be known as a repair facility,” he explained, “because the old stigma is with the garage and mechanics.”
The proper title for a mechanic is actually an automotive service technician, he points out, which he and his employees are, which means they’re all “red-seal endorsed.”
“I’m proud of my qualifications and so are my technicians; they’re proud of their qualifications,” he explained, “so why should we be known as grease monkeys; we should be known as service tech.”
The professionalism of his employees is evident in their dedication to fine workmanship, from keeping customer vehicles running smoothly and looking sharp on the road. “They always use seat covers, floor mats; they’re always keeping the vehicle as clean as possible.”
Toope’s service technicians also don’t wear the typical coveralls. Instead, their uniforms include “nice golf shirts” that they keep as clean as possible given what can be a very dirty job.
“Appearance is everything,” he said, adding that level of professionalism his workers bring to Bridgewater Auto Repair has already earned them a nomination for best small business in town after just over a year of being open to the public.
Cleanliness, health and safety have also gone up a notch while being open as an essential service through the COVID-19 pandemic, with free masks provided to customers, plenty of hand sanitizer available throughout the shop, regular disinfection of all surfaces, limited numbers of people allowed inside showrooms and physical distancing regulations well-respected.
At the end of the day, sending clients home happy with their service and overall experience at Bridgewater Auto Repair and NOVUS Glass Bridgewater is the goal because if they’re satisfied, they’ll come back next time, and they’ll help spread the word about just how high a BAR is set there. “We run off recommendations; that’s our biggest form of advertising,” Toope said. “We’re really big on customer service.”