Bob & Don's started in September of 1971 by Bob Kaiser & Don Loder. They are first cousins and grew up together on Grand Island and were always close. Bob being back from a year in Vietnam, laid off at Niagara Machine & Tool as a draftsman and Don being laid off at Bell Aerospace Systems as a rocket technician, they decided they needed a new direction in their lives.
They were always nterested and involved with automobiles and the gas station atmosphere. Having worked at the Mobil station on Grand Island since the age of 16, they both were sure they had the capability to be successful. When the opprotunity to have their own place in Amherst appeared (they hardly knew where it was) it seemed like a good choice. It was a 3 bay Mobil station located on the corner of Millersport Highway and Short Street, very close to Maple Rd. The North University at Buffalo campus was planned and the opprotunity came knocking.
After a week or so of just pumping gas, leaning against the work bench and trying to gain a repair customer, they had their first opprotunity. A Mustang arrived from a neighborhood man needing a rear wheel cylinder. From there, it went word of mouth. "Hey, these guys are honest, reasonable and know what they're doing!" Business grew using local advertising and promotions. As time went on, they hired some part time help, then full time help. As Mobile dealers, they were open until 11 pm, full serve gas only.
As the years went on, so did the challenges. Self serve was introduced, gas rationing, the blizzard of '77, many students moving into a new campus, a Marriott Hotel, housing developments, and constant automotive technology changes. Eventually their sons became itchy to help out on Saturdays. Bob's wife was the secretary or "Gofer" as she called herself. She was in charge of payroll, bookkeeping, and banking. They had a towing service and a snow plowing service in the area. It was nice beng young and full of energy! Within a short time the boys, Dave, Ken, and Jeff grew up, started driving and of course, needed jobs. All 3 worked at Bob & Don's Mobil. It was truly a family business. They learned the trade and they watched them mature.
As the area grew, so did the traffic. Millersport & Maple Rd. became more congested, the university kept expanding and they could see something had to give. That started when the NYS Department of Transportation started plans to totally change the intersection. A overpass was planned, road widening and the elimination of all businesses in the area. After many changes in the time frame, DOT finally arrived at 1984 as the year of Bob & Don's Mobil would no longer exist. After the enitial shock wore off, they were on a mission to relocate. After a period of time, they caught a lucky break when a former employee mentioned a closed Arco station in Snyder that was up for sale. Bob and Don checked it out, obviously nervous as this was a purchase and not a lease. After kicking it arround, doing the numbers and asking themselves whether to commit or not, they moved forward.
Then it was on to getting the place ready after it was closed for nearly a year. Fresh paint, property cleanup, obtaining a gas supplier, and all the many other things that make a business function were finally in place. With the help of our families, the big day had arrived. BOB & DON'S AUTO CARE was open for business! 13 years after operating as Bob & Don's Mobil, a new adventure had began. The pace at Kensington & Walton Dr. was much slower. Less traffic, fewer direction seekers, the whole neighborhood ran at a much slower pace. After settling for a few months, things were working out. Their boys were back in the work force, customers from their prior location were filtering over, they were meeting potential new customers in the neighborhood and they were paying the bills. Along with the ownership, came expenses. A major one was replacing their underground gasoline storage tanks due to the EPA's reasoning that all tanks must leak. The tanks were fine, leaks, but out they came, new ones installed for thousands of dollars.
Once again, family was the key. Bob and Don's sons were learning the business and Bob's wife Kathy, the office manager, was there as always. In 1995, tragedy struck. Bob's son Ken passed away from his childhood disease of Cystic Fibrosis at age 26. Being a part of a business and working closely with Don's sons, it was not easy. They say time heals and it does, to a certain extent. As time marched on, Dave, Don's older son, graduated from ECC in Auto Technology and got married. Jeff, Don's younger son, also got married a few years later and eventually moved to Florida to become a firefighter in the Villages. Things were changing, as life does, but Bob & Don's Auto Care rolled with it.
Fast forward to 2014, Bob & Don began talking about how long they should keep doing this. They mentioned to a few salespeople that stopped every week that they were interested in retiring and if they knew anyone that would be interested, to send them their way and maybe we could move forward. This went on for months, no real serious interest and they were wondering if this was the right move. Then their NAPA salesman said "Hey guys I have someone who is very interested in your place, he's a car guy, very nice, thinks the way you guys do, what should I tell him?" Nervous as they were, they decided to at least talk and see where it goes. After many meetings at the picnic table discussing everything from business experience, attitude, inventory, equiptment, tools, price - a deal was struck. Things progressed much faster than we expected and did not allow us much time to notify our customers of the upcoming change. The letters went out to our many loyal customers thanking them for so many years of dedicated patronage.
They found Jim and Jim found them. Bob & Don's Auto Care became Bob & Don's Automotive. The transition went smoothly, the customers are getting aquainted with Jim and his staff. Dave stayed with the change. He is the auto tech to go to, and all of their customers from their 43 years in business are still happy he's there. Jim is the guy in charge, the new owner, the VW expert, and has been in the auto industry his whole life. Cory is the tech in the wings, friendly and willing to help anyone that comes thru the door.
The torch has been passed. Bob & Don are out of the picture. They all meet for breakfast every Saturday, catching up on whats going on and answering any questions any of them have. Bob and Don are out of a job but really enjoying life. They have their hobbies and their wives keep them busy. It has been a great ride, they have no regrets, and wish everyone many thanks for their success.