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The first thing customers are likely to notice when they pull up at Larson's Automotive Service, Inc. in South Peabody is a large banner stretched above the dual garage doors of this quaint mechanic shop.
It is an unusual introduction to a mechanic's shop, the sort of place that you don't really expect to see outward and explicit displays of adoration.
But once you step inside and talk to the four people who comprise Larson's Automotive Service, Inc., it makes perfect sense. John Larson, who opened the 289 Lynn St. garage with his wife more than 20 years ago, passed away after a courageous two-year battle with heart disease last August.
This is a tight-knit family business still recovering from John's death, and even as owner and manager Diane Larson, John's wife, wants to get out the word that for the first time since John became seriously ill they are again accepting new clients, she wants John's memory and legacy recognized as well.
"John was always a mechanic," she says. "It is what he wanted to do, lived his life for, and we are all better for it."
At Larson's Automotive Service, Diane and John Larson have long thought of servicing their customers in the fashion of a doctor's office or a dentist's office - their clients are encouraged to come in and have their automobiles exposed to a routine checkup every six months.
It's a philosophy Larson says she and her husband pioneered, and one she's proud to continue in his absence.
"We were one of the first people that posted that theory," she says. "We see them twice a year. It's great. It's painless. It's a great program."
Fresh after adding two new hires, experienced mechanics Travis Luscomb and Eric Stille, Larson is eager to bring in new clients, as their slower volume of business during John's illness and the economic recession have taken their toll.
In addition to their small, dedicated staff and philosophy of routine checkups, Larson hopes a new rust-proofing program she has recently begun offering will help bring customers in as well.
According to Larson, they are the only shop in the area to offer rust-proofing from Corrosion FREE, a Canadian company whose unique product Larson says is "definitely saving our clients' cars."
For all the transition in the past two years, though, Larson is excited to announce Larson's Automotive Service, Inc. should remain a family business for a long time to come. Kevin Silva, who joined the staff back in 2000 and is now the shop foreman, is also her son-in-law-to-be.
"He's a great shop foreman," Larson says. "You cannot find a better facility. My guys are absolutely top-notch."
Larson's Automotive Service, 289 Lynn St. in South Peabody, is now accepting new clients. To schedule an appointment, call Diane at 978-530-1111.