Harwood Heights garage fixes cars, values customers
Kevin Moloney watches employee Matt St. Denis work on a master cylinder. Moloney and his brother Bob own Lawrence and Olcott Auto Care in Harwood Heights. | Joel Lerner~Sun-Times Media
Lawrence-Olcott Auto Care
7455 W. Lawrence Ave. in Harwood Heights
Specializes in the mechanical care of cars, vans and small trucks
Hours: 7 a.m.-4 p.m. Monday-Friday or by appointment
Also participates in local fundraising through car care days in which 15 percent of bill goes to the participating community organization
Updated: February 25, 2013 6:18AM
HARWOOD HEIGHTS — Repairing vehicles for a living is fine, but the interaction with customers is what the Moloney brothers treasure.
Bob and Kevin Moloney own Lawrence-Olcott Auto Care at 7455 W. Lawrence Ave. in Harwood Heights.
“The primary purpose here is mechanical repair service,” Bob Moloney explained. “It could be quite monotonous if it weren’t for the personalities of the customers.
“Their enthusiasm wears off on us technicians, and it keeps me coming back (to work.) The grandfathers still come, and now their grandkids do.”
The Moloneys started in the auto repair business back in the 1960s when they worked at George’s Standard station at Narragansett, Northwest Highway and Devon.
“We trained as mechanics,” Kevin Moloney said. “We learned from George.”
In 1975, Bob Moloney bought the business. His brother joined him in 1977.
When Amoco took over Standard, it began doing away with auto repair service to concentrate on pumping gas, Kevin Moloney said.
The brothers had 90 days to decide to keep the station.
“If we didn’t want to, there was a waiting list of buyers,” Bob Moloney said. “That was the most frightening time of my life.”
They ended up keeping the station, and 1979 opened the Lawrence Avenue location.
“That was the day of the big plane crash,” Kevin Moloney said, referring to the May 25, 1979 disaster in which an American Airlines DC-10 lost its left engine shortly after taking off from O’Hare International Airport. It crashed, killing 271 people.
The brothers eventually sold the Narragansett station to concentrate on the Harwood Heights place.
They then gave up the gas pumps because Amoco’s policy was, the station had to pump at least 100,000 gallons per month.
They cleaned up the corner, got rid of the underground gas storage tanks and started concentrating on mechanical repair.
The shop caters to cars, vans and small trucks, focusing on such services as oil changes, fuel injectors, steering and suspension, heating and air conditioning and “a lot“ of brake work.
Most customers make appointments for service.
“It’s a small shop, and appointments help us keep the balance,” Bob Moloney said.
“We stay within our specialty,” Kevin Moloney added.
Fixing the car matters, but so is treating the customers fairly, the brothers said.
“If you’re looking for just a technician, you can find one on just about every corner,” Bob Moloney said. “At one time there were 17 auto repair shops within a mile of here.”
The difference is in customer service.
“You have to have the good, reliable service,” Bob Moloney said. “Matt is good, sharp and has a great work ethic.”
Matt is technician Matt St. Denis, who started with the Moloneys in 2005.
“He’s respectful, and values ongoing education, staying up-to-date with changes in technology,” Bob Moloney said.
“And he’s good with electrical,” Kevin Moloney added.
Attention to detail and keeping up with the latest trends is what keeps customers coming back.
“We’re a neighborhood station,” Bob Moloney said. “We know our customers by name.”
“It’s important to us to maintain that relationship,” Kevin Moloney added. “We get to know the person behind the wheel.
The Moloneys both said they have been blessed with great customers.
“It renews us when we inherit the business of the children and grandchildren of our customers, some of whom come from as far away as Elgin, Schaumburg and (Chicago’s) Gold Coast,” Kevin Moloney said.