Friday, 04 September 2020 17:10

Dick’s Auto Repair in Orange, MA, Hanging Up the Wrenches

Written by Dominic Poli, Greenfield Recorder
Richard Noel, owner of Dick’s Auto Repair in Orange, MA. The shop is closing on Sept. 25. Richard Noel, owner of Dick’s Auto Repair in Orange, MA. The shop is closing on Sept. 25. Staff Photo/Paul Franz


A 38-year ride for Dick’s Auto Repair in Orange, MA, is coming to an end this month, as owner Richard Noel plans to close up shop on Sept. 25.

“It’s been great. We’ve probably got the best customers in the world,” he said this week. “My body’s getting beat to death, so it’s time.”


Noel, 69, said automotive repair is a physically demanding trade and his knees, ankles, back and hips are paying the price.


It was 1982 on a drive home from Florida that Noel’s wife, Denise, first encouraged him to open his own shop. He had graduated from Greenfield Trade School in 1969 and started working part-time at a Toyota dealership that once sat where the John W. Olver Transit Center now operates at 12 Olive St. in Greenfield. He went full-time in 1970 and worked there until his wife convinced him to branch out on his own.


Noel said he started in a 24-by-30-foot shop next to his house before building the current 60-by-80-foot garage at 48 King St., on the other side of his house. The business also sells used vehicles and offers 24/7 towing.


Denise Noel, 68, said she works in the office and handles the paperwork for all the shop’s services. She said it feels good to retire after years of successful business.


“We’ve done real well,” she said, adding that their loyal customers appreciate their honesty and trustworthiness.


Denise Noel also said the shop repairs vehicles for the Orange Police Department and the Orange Post Office.

Richard Noel explained he grew up in Athol and moved to Orange after the eighth grade. It was during this time that he got a job at a junkyard taking apart motors for $1 a pop. He averaged 80 motors a week.


“That’s $80,” he said. “That’s a lot back in those days.”


Richard Noel recalls he got bit by the bug.


“I got just wicked interested in [auto repair],” he said. “I got hooked on fixing cars and just never looked back.”


Richard Noel said and he Denise plan to do some traveling, but will remain local residents. However, the house and shop have been on the market a few years. He said a buyer was lined up, but backed out once the COVID-19 pandemic struck. The pandemic didn’t make business any more difficult though, he said, because he was able to offer contact-free service.


We thank the Greenfield Recorder for reprint permission.

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