When Margaret Williams, the beloved mechanic that ran her shop for 34 years, decided to retire, she wasn’t willing to hand over the name and assets of her life’s work to just anybody. It was Margaret’s dedication, honesty, mechanical talent, and being an upstanding pillar in the community that drew patrons to the shop – it was important for the legacy and all it stood for to continue.
That brings us to Arnaud Gauthier and Ray Gretzinger, the business partners that have purchased MAR Automotive.
Arnaud, the founder of Garage on Wheels, was looking to purchase his first location. “My company motto is uncompromising honesty and care,” he says.
Ray adds, “We found that Margaret was already doing that with MAR Automotive. All of our values aligned, and that was a key factor for all of us during the transition.”
Saturday, October 13th 1pm to 4pm
8 Riel Drive, St. Albert
It almost seems like fate. MAR was the acronym for Margaret and Ralph Williams. Margaret’s (late) husband, Ralph, was an integral part of the business and the two had a happy and successful partnership in and out of the mechanic shop. Now, with Garage on Wheels operating as MAR Automotive, the acronym (by coincidence) stands for Margaret, Arnaud, and Ray.
Ray is impressed by the outpouring of love he sees from Margaret’s long-term patrons – which spans generations of clients – and how they are seeking to stay in touch with her as she bids farewell to the business.
After working on the deal with Margaret’s close friend and business intermediary, Robert Hersft, and with plenty of guidance from Margaret herself and her and long-term employee and right-hand man, Matt Blair, Arnaud and Ray are excited to take MAR Automotive through its next evolution.
Arnaud, who hails from France, has been an automotive service technician for more than 20 years. As a boy he loved to take his toys apart and put them back together again to see how they worked. When a teacher took him aside, pointed out his “lack of enjoyment for school studies,” and suggested he look at his options, Arnaud turned to mechanics.
His training started in France in 1995 and he obtained his first journeyman ticket in 1998. From there he quickly expanded his knowledge by working on the finest European cars, along with foreign and domestic models of all kinds. He moved to Canada in 2005 and obtained his Red Seal Journeyman ticket in 2008.
Two years ago, Arnaud embarked on an entrepreneurial journey by starting Garage on Wheels, a self-contained mobile mechanic shop. The convenience, and Arnaud’s skills, made the venture a quick success. In short order he was looking for a business partner and a brick-and-mortar base of operations.
That partner turned out to be Ray, a friend and a client. “Arnaud was my mechanic,” say Ray, “but also someone I truly admire and respect for his drive, strength, character, and ambition. I call him the ‘magic man’ because of his unique skillset. I grew up around mechanics, so I don’t say that lightly. I was excited to join the company as a business partner because he inspired me with his desire to really dig in and create an outstanding shop.”
Ray brings many years of business management, networking, and community involvement to the partnership, and he’s happy to be immersed in what he loves – working with cars.
“My first job was pumping gas,” says Ray, and quickly he advanced to help manage the station. As a youngster he built a showstopping race car, among other mechanical projects.
Ray worked with Margaret during the summer to become more familiar with the business. “It is not just a business, but a big community family. We are hoping to continue that,” he notes.
“I’m excited to have a shop with such a history and reputation,” says Arnaud. “It’s a great start.” He looks forward to fully combining the shop and the mobile business; Garage on Wheels will offer limited service during the winter months as he as Ray focus on merging and re-launching MAR Automotive.
On October 13, Garage on Wheels (operating as MAR Automotive) is hosting a farewell to Margaret along with a soft opening under the new ownership. A grand opening event will take place in the spring.
“Clients should continue to choose us because we are competitive,” says Arnaud. “I started Garage on Wheels to be an honest, trustworthy service. I never sell people things they don’t need. We care about our clients.”
They are both excited that with the purchase of MAR Automotive, they can provide high-quality in-shop and mobile service, while giving back to the community and being part of the outstanding legacy for which MAR Automotive has always been known.
To learn more, please visit www.garageonwheels.ca