Greenwich store celebrates a hundred a long time

GREENWICH, Conn. (AP) — Grover Cunningham was a male of eyesight. Only 11 many years following Henry Ford made the Design T, the Greenwich man imagined the time was proper to start an autobody shop in his hometown.

That was 1914, and the same autobody store, which bears the founder’s identify, continues to run in the able fingers of grandson Bruce Cunningham, and excellent grandson, Gary Cunningham.

The cause for the shop’s success is every single generation’s pleasure in their function, according to Bruce, who succeeded his father, Evan, and carried on his need for precision.

“I’ve been listed here given that 1960,” stated Bruce, 70, sitting in his modest office at seventy four N. H2o St., in the Byram part of Greenwich.

He said his father made it really clear that client pleasure was essential to the achievement of the business. “Your father is more durable than anyone else because he expects a lot more out of you.”

The prolonged-term success of the company may be even more surprising since it has been reached in the identical nondescript spot in which Grover commenced the shop.

“It is outstanding top quality operate, and word of mouth is the ideal promoting you can have,” said Bruce, recalling his father acknowledged all varieties of operate during the slow times. That integrated tasks like painting home furniture and refrigerators.

“I did porch furniture for a consumer. She needed pink home furniture. There ended up virtually a hundred items. I painted, painted and painted.

“We also painted two fridges black. It was a way to maintain me busy,” mentioned Bruce, who specialized in portray at the business. “I did ninety % painting. It was trial and error at initial. It took a couple a long time.”

Although Bruce spoke in his place of work lined with company memorabilia and family images, Gary worked in an adjoining bay, polishing an emergency car introduced in by the Spherical Hill Volunteer Hearth Office for front-end repairs.

“I went to Wright Tech in Stamford and took autobody. I genuinely get pleasure from restoring a vehicle or taking a broken car and creating it new once more,” mentioned Gary, 46, who focuses on entire body work.

A father of three, Gary stated he thinks none of his kids will want to take above the business. His older brother, Bruce Cunningham Jr., is a instructor and soccer coach at Wilton Higher School.

The business, which survived a hearth in the 1940s, has permitted Gary to see generations of Greenwich-region families develop up because faithful buyers keep on to seek them out.

“We see automobiles my grandfather labored on. They preserve coming back again. They know you do great work,” he explained, incorporating simply because they are tucked away in a Greenwich community and not on the occupied Submit Road, folks have to make an effort to find the business. “They go out of their way to discover us. We are off the overwhelmed path.”

That has not deterred Greenwich resident Rod Saggese, who introduced his 1st car to the shop in the early 1980s.

“We have a automobile in their store now. It was hit although it was parked in a film theater parking great deal in Stamford,” Saggese mentioned. “Bruce is immensely expert. He has been unbelievable and he is quite supportive of his consumers. He’ll pursue what is correct. He fights for the deductible and to use authentic components — not right after-market place. I’ve advisable him to a lot of men and women.”

Saggese mentioned his romantic relationship with Bruce started when their youngsters were playmates.

He attributed the longevity of the business to the family’s innate really like of serving consumers and the pride in their function.

“It’s in the DNA,” Saggese stated.

There aren’t many firms that have survived a century underneath the identical household ownership, according to Paul Periods, director of the Heart for Loved ones Enterprise at the University of New Haven.

“Anybody that lasts that long in the exact same household and

Possessing a succession program for a family members-owned company is essential to carry it by means of the generations, as well as to get ready for the long-phrase chance of a sale, he stated.

“When a enterprise has been in a family members for four generations, it is like a youngster,” Periods stated.

Finding employees who are prepared to continue being with a little company is producing it difficult to grow, Bruce stated, recalling the times when the store used the exact same personnel for thirty to forty a long time.

“You will not have employees like that any longer. You will find no much more loyalty,” said Bruce, whose wife, Lynn, has been the bookkeeper for decades.

The company has adapted to shifting technological innovation, mentioned Bruce, and exhibits on a check how needed equipment like frame straighteners have progressed into exacting computerized machines.

“My father was the greatest body straightener I at any time saw. There were no frame devices — for each se — back then. These days, it is a good deal more sophisticated,” mentioned Bruce, who hasn’t dropped his penchant for detail. “You would not do any various repair on a Vega than you would a Cadillac. It’s your reputation. It is the accomplishment place is very extraordinary,” explained Sessions, whose family members operated a organization for 6 generations. “Had they not manufactured their clients pleased, they would not be there.”of carrying out it right.”

Such devotion is a important component in a organization continuing to thrive after a century, in accordance to Marcia O’Kane, government director of the Greenwich Chamber of Commerce.

“Generational firms are unusual — surviving the ups and downs. It speaks evidently to the support of the local community and that the business is offering exceptional service,” she stated. “It’s so admirable that a business can keep so lively. They’ve got a whole lot to be proud of.”


Details from: Greenwich Time,

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