Area business thrives due to its culture and service to the community
VANCOUVER — It was the Sunday after Thanksgiving when Tommy Gaynor’s phone started blowing up.
Gaynor, general manager of Gaynor’s Automotive, was hearing from folks who were reacting to an advertisement they had seen in the Sunday edition of The Columbian Newspaper. What confused Gaynor about that was the fact that he had no knowledge of placing an ad for his family’s business in the paper on that day.
“I started getting text messages from friends and customers saying ‘that ad in The Columbian is amazing, I wish I worked at a place like that,’’’ recalled Gaynor, who immediately investigated the situation.
Gaynor soon found out that the 35 employees of Gaynor’s Automotive had scheduled their own ad, thanking and celebrating their employer, including Tommy’s parents — Tom and Holly Gaynor — who founded the business in 1986.
“Tom Gaynor has grown his business so successfully by showing his customers that honesty and integrity are two things that they can count on with Gaynor’s Automotive,’’ read a portion of the employees’ statement in the ad. “We strive to provide honest, dependable workmanship and we go that extra mile to provide exceptional customer service. These simple, but imperative, business practices were spelled out in our corporate vision over fifteen years ago. Also spelled out in that vision was that Gaynor’s Automotive wants their employees to be proud of where they work so that they will work there through retirement.’’
It would be an understatement to say that Tommy Gaynor was moved by the gesture of his 35 employees, 13 of whom have been with Gaynor’s Automotive for at least six years.
“They started putting it together in August and they paid for it out of their own pockets,’’ Gaynor said. “Even before I saw it, it literally put me in tears. It meant a lot to me that they thought that much of us. It spoke to our culture and that is something that we are really proud of.’’
The history of Gaynor’s Automotive
Tom and Holly Gaynor founded Gaynor’s Automotive in 1986. The couple had started with ownership of a gas station/convenience mart in Boise, Idaho but after moving to Vancouver, they purchased an automotive repair shop in Hazel Dell.
“My dad thought he could do a lot better fixing cars than selling gas,’’ Tommy said. “He and mom bought our first location on Hazel Dell Avenue and 76th. It was called Raines Automotive. They kept one employee from that shop.’’
Tommy, just 10 years old at the time, remembers that first shop as being quite modest compared to the four, state-of-the-art Gaynor’s Automotive locations today.
“It was this old dilapidated, worn out shop,’’ said Tommy, now 42 years of age. “They were so happy to show my brother (John) and I. As a 10-year-old kid, all I remember thinking was, ‘why did you buy this dump?’’’
In 1992, the Gaynors opened their second location (Salmon Creek). The downtown Vancouver location was next in 2000 and the Cascade Park location followed in 2007. In 2015, they partnered with Mike Jenkins of MAJ Development to upgrade the Salmon Creek location and expand the 5-acre site to include a Starbucks, Sherwin Williams Paint store, Banner Bank branch and Fred Meyer gas depot.
Each month, 1,600 vehicles are repaired at the four Gaynor’s Automotive locations.
“I really think it comes down to our core values, our principles and how we go to market,’’ Tommy Gaynor said. “It’s literally in our core values that we want to provide you safe and reliable transportation to make sure you have a safe ride home because your car was repaired properly.
“We try to treat everyone like we would want to be treated,’’ he said. “My dad always preached to all of us to use the Nordstrom model as the marquee of customer service. If there is any type of a gray area, we’re going to error on the side of the customer.’’
Over the years, including 2017, Gaynor’s Automotive has been voted Best in Clark County by customers in The Columbian Newspapers’ annual survey of the best area businesses.
“I think that speaks to how we’re doing and how we take care of people,’’ Gaynor said. “Once we’ve inspected and repaired your vehicle, you can confidently get in and drive it knowing you will be trouble free and it is going to get you where you want to go.’’
New shuttle fleet
One of the reasons for the success of Gaynor’s Automotive is that over the years the business has been able to adapt to changes in automotive technology and Gaynor and his staff continue to do just that.
Gaynor’s Automotive recently purchased three new Toyota Prius vehicles to replace its shuttle fleet. It’s part of a vision that Gaynor has for the future of the business.
“As I look at the situation, I’m 42 years old and I know I’m going to be here another 20 or 25 years,’’ Gaynor said. “I try to do my best to stay in front of, or on top of, what’s going on in the automotive world. I think over the next 25 years, our society will be making a fairly aggressive shift to hybrid or electric-powered vehicles.
“We want to be on the forefront of the technology and we want to be the leader in hybrid and electric vehicle repair,’’ he said. “It was time to upgrade our customer service vehicles so we have acquired these three 2018 Prius’. We will use those to shuttle customers and we will also use those for training with our technicians for service and maintenance of hybrid vehicles.’’
The Gaynor’s Automotive commitment to keeping up with that technology is even much more substantial than the purchase of the three vehicles. In March, Gaynor is sending half of his tech crew to Seattle for hybrid and electric vehicle training. He is also in the process of purchasing $50,000 of specialty equipment for each of the Gaynor’s Automotive locations.
“We want to be ‘that guy’ or ‘that shop’ you think of when it comes to hybrid or electric vehicle repair,’’ Gaynor said. “We want to be the shop that has the proper equipment, safety gear and training that stands by it when we do repairs. The equipment is ordered and our guys are going to training.’’
From Day 1, Gaynor says fleet services has also been a key element to the Gaynor’s Automotive success. The staff, led by Fleet Service Manager Kevin Weisner, currently services the fleets of such area companies as Comcast, Charter Communications, AT&T, PeaceHealth Southwest, Beacock’s Music, and Commercial Dishwasher.
Gaynor’s Automotive has put together an extensive program for fleet service that individual companies just can’t match.
“It really comes down to technology,’’ Gaynor said. “Twenty years ago, fleets could have a shop mechanic, but even that title is now outdated. Our people are technicians. The majority of what our guys do is computer diagnosis. There isn’t a lot of rebuilding or repairing.
“Things are so advanced now that the amount of computer technology and onboard testing equipment they would have to have to maintain and repair these vehicles just doesn’t justify the cost,’’ he said. “We can turn their vehicles around really fast.’’
But the Gaynor’s Automotive value doesn’t end with a quick turnaround. As part of the fleet service is a customer retention management system that tracks all completed and upcoming maintenance for each vehicle that Gaynor’s manages, whether that vehicle is part of a fleet or just an individual.
“It would be a logistical nightmare for a fleet manager who has 50 vehicles,’’ Gaynor said. “We have a system that runs the background and sends out emails for every vehicle and what repairs or maintenance is due. We try to give them a road map for the next six months in terms of repairs and maintenance. We do that with all of our customers.’’
To schedule an appointment or for more information, including phone numbers and addresses of the four Gaynor’s Automotive locations, visit www.gaynors.com.