October 21, 2021

Auto repair shops hit brakes amid snowstorm

Bob Ellis/staff photographer

Frank Roberts installs a tire back onto a vehicle Wednesday morning at Tallmadge Tire on Groton Avenue in Cortland.

Roads were quiet the past couple of days with many choosing to stay home rather than tackle the treacherous snowy roads, a major hindrance for many auto repair shops in the path of the recent nor’easter.

Many area repair shops had cancellations and were forced to close early Tuesday — some on Wednesday, too.

But not all was lost. Beth Odell, manager of Total Auto Care in Homer, said the shop got in a lot of plow trucks that broke down while plowing.

The shop averages about 15 to 20 cars a day, and while it only had about 10 on Wednesday, business was still steady.

“We’re still working at full capacity, just not as crazy,” she said.

She predicts the poor weather could provide additional business, too. Ten accidents were reported in the county between Tuesday night and Wednesday morning.

Slippery road conditions could cause people to slide off the road and damage their cars. So she expects there could be a few customers who come in needing body repair or a part fixed.

“The cold air is bad for customers, but good for business,” Odell said.

The freezing weather could kill car batteries and alternators, so she anticipates many cars coming in with those problems, too.

But on Tuesday and Wednesday, it was a struggle for most shops to keep busy.

“We’ve been extremely slow, nothing going on,” said Andy Warhorlic, manager of Tallmadge Tire Service, at 50 Groton Ave. in Cortland.

The shop averages about 20 cars a day, but Warhorlic said there was nearly nothing to work on the past couple of days. There was some things for employees to work on, but not enough to keep everyone busy all day long.

On Tuesday the shop closed early at 1 p.m. and planned on closing earlier Wednesday, too. Warhorlic said he could not even work on the cars he had in the shop because parts were either taking a long time to be delivered or not at all.

“The snow has definitely been a hindrance,” he said. “Hopefully it stops so we can get back on track Thursday.”

Wayne Dutton, president of Kellogg Auto Supply, which has two NAPA Auto Parts stores in the Cortland area, said the snowfall Tuesday and Wednesday “has been rough.” He had his drivers make deliveries until 3 p.m. Tuesday, but stopped them because the driving conditions became too dangerous.

However, it was back to business as usual Wednesday, trying to get the parts out as quick as possible. Having to stop delivering early on Tuesday did hurt sales, Dutton said, but there was a slight increase in walk-in sales.

“We’ve been through a snow storm before. We’re used to it,” he said.

A lack of parts delivery was a major drawback for Brents Service of Freeville.

“It’s ruined me,” Brent Hkollister said about the snow storm. “I had cars waiting I couldn’t work on because I couldn’t get parts.”

Parts finally began to come in on Wednesday morning, giving Hollister little time to speak as he had a lot of work to catch up on.

Gary Lynch, owner of B and I Distributors of Marathon, said business was not too awful, just a little slow. He, too, was waiting on parts to finish the work he has. None were delivered to his shop on Tuesday and as of Wednesday morning he was still waiting.

Warhorlic said when business is affected by big snow storms, like the one that left more than two feet of snow between Tuesday and Wednesday, the only thing you can do is “just go with the flow.”