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William Eubank's retires after 50 years (VA)


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When end of July rolls around, so does William Eubank's 50-years-plus repairing cars in Fredericksburg



When William Eubank shuts down his auto service center in Fredericksburg on July 31, he’ll cap off a half-century of owning and running local businesses that repaired cars, sold gas and towed stranded vehicles.


And if you add in the years Eubank spent pumping gas at various spots in Fredericksburg as a youngster, the hardworking man of few words can tack on another decade or two of serving motorists in and around the city.


“It’s not easy work, but I’ve always liked it,” said Eubank one recent afternoon at his Eubank’s Service Center location at 1510 Princess Anne St. “Working on cars keeps you busy and the day goes by quick. And I liked being my own boss. Work for somebody else? No, I don’t think I would have lasted too long doing that.”


Eubank, the trusted mechanic to generations of some local families, got a chance to operate his own gas station and repair center at what became Eubank’s BP on Princess Anne Street in 1969. The folks who owned the business let him pay for the inventory in the store over time. He was 29.


Eubank is 80 now, and he’s been repairing cars and towing vehicles from different locations in the city since then, with a short stint operating a shop for a while in Caroline County, not far from the Woodford home where he grew up.

“I start pumping gas at a station in the city when I was 9, making $3 a day,” said Eubank with one of the deep laughs long-term customers well recognize. “You can’t get people to work these days for $100 a day!”


Eubank said he enjoyed the afternoons and weekends pumping gas, checking tires and changing oil at a succession of stations, working for a while with his older brother, Jimmy.


He said opening his own shop at the BP station on Princess Anne Street was a big step, but he quickly found a faithful clientele.


Eubank said he learned from watching his brother and others how to make basic automotive repairs, picking up other repair tips simply by doing the work.


“In those days, cars were simpler and the systems in them were mostly the same,” he said, noting that repairing brakes or putting in ignition points were the same whether you were working on a Ford, a Chevy or a Chrysler.


“Back then, you really could tell a lot about what was wrong with a car just by listening to the engine run,” he said.


Something his brother told him early on became the basis for his philosophy of customer service.


“He told me that even if it takes you all day to do a repair, do it right,” he said. “That really stuck with me, and I think it was what people coming back to my business.”


Eubank, who now lives in Stafford County, said at one point, his station was full service 24 hours a day. He eventually cut back, and gas pumps became self-service.


“We stocked a whole line of tires, batteries and other equipment, which really sold well on weekends when other places were shut down,” he said.


The business owner moved his repair service from the BP station to a repairs-only shop in 2005, largely for financial reasons.


“The rent there at that point had gotten up to $5,000 a month,” he said, noting that he could have afforded that “but I didn’t want to put that much money into it.”


Eubank said he once enjoyed was operating a towing service.


“The only trouble with serving the motor club customers was that you had to agree to go out on calls in the middle of the night,” he said, noting that many a call came in the wee hours on nights when snow was falling.


Eubank, whose son Greg learned repairs at his father’s knee and operates Falls Run Car Care just a few blocks down Princess Anne, said he’ll always remember one snowy night when he went out to tow in a stranded car.


“My tow truck broke down as I was towing in the car, and I had to call Greg to come get me with his truck,” said Eubank, wincing at the memory. “It took him a while to get there, and it was one cold mess while we waited.”


The longtime businessman said he always tried to set his prices so he got a decent wage but offered his customers fair prices, and that he just enjoyed figuring out how to turn a car that wouldn’t run into one that did.


“We did everything from changing the oil to putting on tires and more, but I liked repairs the best, getting into a car and fixing it,” he said. “I was glad to have customers who stuck with me, some who have been coming to me for a lot of years.”


For most of the past 15 years, he worked with the same assistant, but he got sick and passed away earlier this year. Eubank said that loss, and his own medical issues, meant it was time to think about closing.


Health concerns have cut back on the work Eubanks has been able to do lately, and his son stops by the shop now and then to assist when necessary. The father may join his son to work at Falls Run Car Care occasionally, but jokingly warned him “not to expect me all that often.”


One thing some of Eubank’s customers are concerned about is what he’ll do with the passel of cats who call his shop home.


Eubank, a cat lover, said he’s found a nice lady in Orange County with a big barn that’s heated in winter. She agreed to take his four-footed friends.


“She’ll come and pick them up when I’m ready to leave,” he said, looking at a few stretched out by the fan in his shop.


“That won’t be much longer now.”





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What an awesome story. Good Luck William on your retirement. Fifty-years in business is a great milestone. I wish you the very best.    R.

Randall C. Resch

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