It’s the beginning of a new chapter at one of Prince Edward County’s fastest growing automotive repair facilities.
Custom Auto proprietor Chris Rice is getting into used car sales after many of his loyal customers have requested his advice after their vehicle has passed its best-before date.
Rice told the Gazette he expects to have about a handful of vehicles at the shop just west of the roundabout at 13688 Loyalist Parkway at any given time and will be sourcing auto solutions for customers who are looking for a specific brand or type of car, passenger van or truck.
“What really prompted us to look into offering car sales was that customers would bring in their vehicle for work,” Rice said. “We stand on our principles of being up front and honest with our customers with regards to what it’s going to take to make their vehicle safe again.”
In some cases, Rice said, putting $2,000 worth of work and parts into a car that had survived many Prince Edward County winters and paid a price in salt corrosion didn’t make much sense.
At that point, the customers would ask the licenced mechanic with over a decade of experience what would make for a good replacement vehicle.
So Rice went about getting OMVIC Certification with a degree in automotive law and ethics from George Brown College to make Custom Automotive a licensed automobile dealership.
“We focus on local trades and have three auction houses we frequent for quality vehicles and makes that have good track records,” Rice said. “If somebody wants something particular, we will find it. It could be a quality car for their daily commute or it could be a current year model with low km’s.”
Rice said Custom Automotive has between 500 and 1,000 recurring customers that the shop provides automotive service for.
The operation has expanded from a small two-bay shop at Rice’s home to a 6,000 sq ft facility that features four mechanical bays and an auxiliary bay for air conditioning service and other minor fixes.
“We’ve been treating people right since the beginning when it was just friends and neighbours and that reputation is why we’ve been able to expand and grow,” Rice said.
In addition to mechanical service that includes everything from brakes to engine work to suspension and tires, Custom Automotive also does some body work and collision repair although car painting is done off site.
And now, car sales.
“We aren’t going to have hundreds of cars on-site but we want to be an option for our customers and friends who might be looking for a safe, reliable vehicle that would suit their needs,” Rice added.