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Thursday, 30 August 2018 17:18

Vision, Foresight Help Launch This PBE Jobber

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It was the mid-1940s. GIs were home from the war, the U.S. economy was booming and shiny new cars were filling America’s highways---cars that needed gasoline and service work.

 

Only a few blocks from the downtown area in a primarily residential part of Nashua, NH, Vic Chaput opened Vic’s Garage, a Gulf station that also performed service, repairs and provided machine shop service. In typical fashion, the one work stall featured a drive-on pit to facilitate oil changes and other chassis work.

 

Business was good. But in 1951, Vic had a vision that the parts business was the future, and so, being located on Pine Street, Pine Motor Parts was born.

 

For his new business, Vic needed more enclosed business space and less open lot. That meant erecting a new addition to his building. But a customer and friend had a better idea. A local manufacturing company was diversifying and didn’t need all of their building space, which was located only a few blocks away. Parts of that company’s building were physically moved down Pine Street---bricks, mortar, large wooden beams and all---and became the new Pine Motor Parts building. At the time there were only three, and a few years later, four other auto parts jobbers in the entire city---all of them fairly small, family-run operations. All had their customer base, and all co-existed in relative harmony.

 

It was also in 1951 that Vic’s son, Roger Chaput, joined the business and began working the front counter and helping out in the very busy machine shop. Through the 1950s and 1960s, the parts business was good … as was the machine shop business. But by the end of the ‘60s, Roger could sense change in the air. Inevitably, cars would be built better and not consume so many parts at the blistering rate seen in the earlier ‘60s. There was talk in the industry of large, vertically integrated auto parts jobber chains taking over. Large companies were remanufacturing carburetors, starters and alternators faster and cheaper than could be done in their machine shop. Engines were better-built, so engine rebuilding and valve jobs would soon be a thing of the past. Roger looked around the industry, saw how well a local competitor was doing with paint and body supplies, saw a steady increase in the number of body shops in and around town and decided that was the direction his company should take.


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