Craigs auto shop front

“All About Quality”

New NAPA AutoPro family member Craig’s Auto Clinic keeps tradition alive while looking toward automotive future

By Kristen Lipscombe

For Craig’s Auto Clinic in Fredericton, one of the newest members of the NAPA AutoPro family, the key to running a successful business is “quality.”

“It’s all about quality repair, quality people and quality service,” Kyle Clark, who purchased the well-known NAPA AutoPro nestled at 120 Two Nations Crossing in the heart of the city about two and a half years ago, told Auto and Trucking Atlantic of what motivates him and his dedicated team members daily.

“The thing that really impressed me going into the business is the people that were there,” Clark said of his six current staff members, including four skilled technicians with a wide range of expertise and a couple of the friendliest front office employees in the industry.

“It was very easy for me to transition (into the NAPA family),” said 36-year-old Clark, who bought the established shop after leaving his sales position, one of many he held during his long automotive career at his family’s infamous Chevrolet dealership, which was sold off in mid-2019 after an incredible 105 years in business.

The Clark family brought the first and oldest Chevrolet dealership to Canada, a historical fact that is still proudly advertised on a display in the dealership featuring a series of photos of all the Clarks that have contributed to the business’s impressive ability to survive two world wars, the great depression and several recessions. 

None of these challenges over more than a century in business ever stopped the Clark family’s commitment to continuing its traditions of success through high-quality customer service – and charitable service to community.

The family also runs the J.T. Clark Family Foundation, established in 1999 to help further its ongoing local philanthropy focused on charity causes that help “improve the quality of life for the people of New Brunswick and surrounding areas,” according to the foundation website. 

Projects have ranged from healthcare and wellbeing, to buildings that support various community services, to initiatives focused on protecting the environment and encouraging sustainable projects.

NAPA AutoPro owner Kyle proudly serves on his family’s foundation board, and obviously comes by his commitment to quality naturally. In addition to bringing his strong family traditions into his new business, however, Kyle is also fiercely focused on having his NAPA AutoPro location focused on preparing for the future of the automotive industry

When Kyle took on his new project, the shop had already previously joined the NAPA AutoCare Network, but after spending about a year getting to know his incredible employees, updating computer systems with more efficient technology, and had basically just setting up shop, he immediately knew what the next steps would be for continued success at Craig’s Auto Clinic.

“When they announced the NexDrive with NAPA and the EV (electric vehicle) support that they want to go after, well, you have to be an AutoPro to get that, and I want to be in on the first wave of those shops,” Kyle said of the importance of getting on board with the next generation of vehicles to hit the roads.

NexDrive powered by NAPA is the company’s newest vehicle training program geared toward creating “a service network of independent automotive repair shops that specialize in maintenance of electric and hybrid cars. 

All technicians are NexDrive certified and carry out maintenance and repairs down to the last detail according to factory guidelines,” according to its website.

Kyle’s technicians were preparing to start NexDrive training in January, with one of his staff members – his 38 year old brother Jay Clark – already well-versed in how to properly service eclectic vehicles.

 “Our company’s legal name is actually Craig Electric Company – that’s what it used to be when it started almost 75 years ago,” Kyle said. “They were known for fixing starters and rebuilding things. So, I thought, well, Craig Electric Cars; when EVs become more popular, I want to be the first one in Fredericton.”

His business philosophy is simple. In order to maintain the historical reputation of providing high-quality customer service, you also have to be able to predict what’s coming next and prepare for providing that same high-quality care to customers in the future. “I’d rather be ready than trying to catch up.”

“I think there’s lots of talk out there, especially form automotive people in general, that it’s not coming, it’s slow, there’s no support; there are a lot of naysayers about it,” Kyle said, “but eventually in some iteration, there are going to be different cars, whether it’s different or current battery types, the current chargers we have, or not. 

If we know anything about the technology industry, we know that it’s going to change.”

That’s why partnering with NAPA has become an important part of Kyle’s business plan. “With a group like NAPA, we’re going be ahead of what electric cars are going to look like.”

Electric vehicles aside, Craig’s Auto Clinic still offers all of the services and products you’d expect from any NAPA AutoPro location to “help keep your vehicle in excellent shape including preventative maintenance.

From oil changes and flushes to repairs and MVI, we can do it all,” the company’s website states. 

That also includes a strong reputation for its diagnostic and electrical work, experienced brake work and knowledge, top-notch steering and suspension repair, specialized air conditioning and exhaust expertise, all wheel and tire work, and everything in between.

“We’re all about effective diagnosis, effective repair and good communication,” Kyle said. “We also have really good people on the front counters to keep people informed, and good warranties to back it up with NAPA AutoPro”

Gina Pietrogiacomo (Advisor) 
Richard Boutilier (Technician)
Cody Chambers (Technician)
Kyle Clark (Owner)
John Goodine (Technician)
Cameron Johnston (Advisor)
Jay Clark (Technician)

And with technicians on staff such as Richard Boutilier, who has worked at Craig’s Auto Clinic for 35 years, customers know they’re getting not just the newest automotive knowledge out there but also incredible experience that will ensure they get the best possible service available to them – no matter what they’re driving. “We like to make sure the repair is done right the first time, in a way that we would work on our own vehicles,” Kyle said. “What you get when you come to Craig’s is honest repair and quality repair.”  

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