Doc’s Auto Clinic has new owner with same drive to provide service in Steamboat
The driver behind the wheel of Doc’s Auto Clinic changed seats in June when longtime mechanic and Steamboat Springs resident Jason Bongiorno purchased the longstanding local business, but he plans to maintain the course.
“Brian (Small) has made an amazing reputation in this valley, and Doc’s Auto Clinic has always had the cleanest and most well-kept and nicest facility in town,” Bongiorno said. “It’s been very important for me to just continue to hold onto what he has built, and my plan is just to keep making it even better.
“That’s all I care about, and I’m not trying to change anything that he has already been doing very, very well since ’97.”
Small, who owned and operated Doc’s Auto Clinic for more that 23 years, is now retired. He said it wasn’t always easy, and he learned a lot building Doc’s Auto Clinic into what it is today.
“It wasn’t all roses,” Small said. “I had to go to school and learn how to be a business person; otherwise I would have failed. It’s been a work in progress, and you always strive to do what’s best for the community you live in. Basically, that was my motivation.”
His motto was to take care of his customers and their families by taking care of their cars. But Small also made sure Doc’s was a supportive community member, often giving to local events and organizations including the Town Challenge Mountain Bike Series and Partners in Routt County.
For him, owning a business also meant being a part of the community.
A few years back, when Small started to think about retiring, he took the same approach to selling the business that he did building it over more than a quarter century. He wanted to find a buyer who shared his passion for the community and wanted to provide important services that local residents need.
Small met Bongiorno years ago when he was working as a mechanic at Stambaugh Motors, now Steamboat Motors, and Bongiorno was learning the ropes as a carwash boy.
Over the years, he watched Bongiorno, who graduated from Steamboat Springs High School in 1997, grow into a talented mechanic, going to school at John Deere and working as a heavy equipment mechanic at Wagner Rents for three years and at Routt County from 2003-16.
Bongiorno also started his own business, 1 Off Performance, which specializes in automotive and diesel service, repair and performance and accessories, in 2009.
These days, when Bongiorno is not at work, he is busy with his family, which includes his daughter Kietalyn, a sophomore at Steamboat Springs High School, and his son Quinten, who is a seventh grader.
“He built his own shop, and we still talk with each other about that,” Small said. “A couple of years ago, I started saying to him, ‘You know you really ought to just buy my place.’ I was just trying to plant a bug in his ear, and ultimately, over time that’s what happened.”
Bongiorno took over Doc’s Auto Clinic on June 17 and has merged 1 Off Performance and Doc’s Auto Clinic to better meet the needs of both customer bases.
Small is retired and living in Maryland with his wife Anne. He said he has plenty to keep him busy.
“We have moved all the way back across the country, and I’ve had the last three weeks of setting up a household, spending time with my wife and then I also have a boat to play with and take care of,” Small said. “I’m not short of things to do, but what I miss about going to the shop is just the camaraderie and the people that I worked with — that’s what I miss the most.”
He said he will be keeping and eye on Doc’s and has confidence the shop will continue to meet the high standards he set for more that 25 years. Bongiorno said that’s the plan.
“We are now 1 Off Performance and Doc’s Auto Clinic,” Bongiorno said. “That means the same superior automotive service and repair that has been here with Doc’s Auto Clinic since 1997 … but now it’s a team effort with 1 Off Performance and Doc’s Auto Clinic offering all of your automotive, diesel, service, repair and custom needs in one shop.”
To reach John F. Russell, call 970-871-4209, email jrussell@SteamboatPilot.com or follow him on Twitter @Framp1966.
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