For most of you, Greasy’s Garage is a new name. If you are a MINI owner in New England, chances are good you’ve not only heard of them, you’ve had work done there. Let’s take a closer look at what makes this shop so popular among northeastern MINI motorers.
Greasy’s Garage isn’t just another repair shop, it is a bit of an institution for MINI owners within a 100 miles around it. With the nearest MINI dealership about 40 miles of heavy traffic away, Greasy’s is well-situated to serve MINI owners tucked anywhere near the no-man’s land of Worcester, Massachusetts. Geography might have something to do with their success, but after having work done there and seeing what this shop does for MINI drivers it has to be about more than just location.
Choosing a repair shop can be scary for those who don’t normally tinker with their MINI. You want a place that is competent and knows MINIs. You want the job done right and on-time. Most of all, you want quality work at an affordable price. Greasy’s definitely meets all of these criteria but it’s not like they fix MINIs as an afterthought. They actively participate in MINI events like MINIs On Top through sponsorship and attendance. You’ll find stickers in their lobby from MINI USA just as you’d find in the service or parts department of your local MINI dealer. Whether it’s the pictures on the wall or the cars parked outside, you know your MINI is being worked on by MINI enthusiasts, which can be comforting.
With these factors in mind, we interviewed Pete Eames and Thom Heon to spotlight this special repair shop that specializes in reasonably-priced, quality MINI repairs.
MF (Motoring File): How long have you been in business?
Pete (PE): It’s been about 5 years. We were supposed to open June 1, 2009, but ended up opening a few days early. One of my clients had a break-down and had to be towed in, so we just went to work !!!
MF: Where did the name Greasy’s Garage come from?
PE: Greasy is my cat’s name. He’s 20 years old this year, and has been with me since he was a kitten. He wandered into a garage I worked in years ago, and I decided to bring him home. He’s always with me, follows wherever I go and HAS to be sitting on me if I’m sitting or laying down, no compromise! He’s sweet mannered and loves people. I named him Greasy because he was so dirty when I got him! I wanted something different for a garage name, something that wasn’t like everyone else. When Jeremy Hosegood developed my logo, he made a mix of me and Greasy. The cat smoking a cigar…I don’t smoke cigars anymore. 🙂
MF: Who is part of team Greasy’s? (owner, manager, etc.)
PE: Peter Eames – Owner/Partner – lead tech
John Obryan – Owner/Partner- accounting/management
David Parker – Technician
Thomas Heon – Service writer, office manager
MF: What Social Media sites are you on? (I know you have a Facebook page, but I’m not sure about others)
PE: We are on Facebook and Twitter. I think that’s about it. People mention us all over!
MF: What is your relationship with Massmotoringclub.com? Do you run that site? If so, when did it start?
PE: MMC is a totally separate thing. Me and a small group of friends started that years ago. It used to be really busy, but as we all got busier, we all have a hard time planning events. Kids, jobs, all those crazy responsibilities get in the way. I will say, I’ve met some of my best friends on that site and I am so thankful that is part of my life.
MF: What services do / don’t you provide?
PE: We don’t do Mini automatic transmission service, only because we want the new programming to be done at the same time, which needs to be done at the dealer. So we recommend Herb Chambers when that’s necessary. We don’t do any programming either. Only because we’re not set up for it.
There isn’t much we won’t do, if we don’t, I have a network of businesses that can do what you need. We try to be a one-stop shop. If we can’t do it, glass, bodywork, paint, whatever, I know a reputable person who can.
MF: How and where did your interest in MINIs begin?
PE: Well, when they came out in 2002, I wanted one soooo badly, I fell in love with just the looks alone. Then, I drove one and that was it, I didn’t even try to negotiate the price, I just wanted it. As far as working on them, I was involved in some clubs and a guy asked me to do a one ball on his exhaust. I did it, he talked about it online and voila! Then came another and another, suddenly I was doing pulley parties and it just grew from there. It was really nothing intentional.
MF: How many MINIs do you think you’ve serviced?
PE: I know I have over 800 in my work data base, God only knows but it’s a lot, man!
MF: How did you and your mechanics get so dialed into MINI repair and become known for your work on them?
PE: David has apprenticed with me since he was 14, he’s 22 now. He’s learned MINIs along side me, and we work as a team on every car. Our great reputation was earned by giving our best, 100% of the time, on every job.
MF: Was there a reason behind setting up shop in Worcester?
PE: Oh yes, I was born here, I grew up here. I worked here all my life, so I have a network of people I’ve worked with and I knew I could trust already set up.
I used to work nights and weekends and had developed a client base. It made sense to set up my business in my home town. It’s also centrally located, so from most places, it’s not a crazy drive to get to.
MF: You have become quite popular among MINI enthusiasts. To what do you attribute your success/popularity?
PE: That’s a tough question. I’m a pretty humble guy, so singing my own praises is a bit unusual for me. I always try to be friendly. I accept people for who they are, with no expectations. Whenever I do work for folks, I give them honest answers and the same quality, if not better than I’d do for myself. I love people, I love interacting with people and getting to know them. Given the opportunity, I get to know all of my clients, their interests and hopefully get to make friends. There have been many instances where a client or a friend was in a jam and I’ve helped them out. A couple of years ago, one of my client’s alternators died the night before MINIs On Top! I had one in stock, so I went in that night after hours and replaced it, so she could attend MOT. This year, I stayed into the wee hours of the night before MOT to finish a clutch so one of my clients could attend – she was one of the organizers and it was breaking her heart that she couldn’t drive it up! I wasn’t going to be the guy to let that happen. I’m not a boring guy either, I have a lot of interests, I raise chickens, bees, I garden. I think there’s no single reason, I think it’s a combination of things.
MF: What’s the highest-milage MINI you’ve worked on and is still running strong (that you know of)?
PE: I have a few clients with over 200k on their original engines! They take very good care of them. My highest mileage car belongs to Reed Flemming. He also autocrosses it! it’s got around 230,000 miles!
MF: Do you still service superchargers? It appears as though they can’t be ordered anymore so this will likely be a popular option for first-generation Cooper S owners.
PE: I still do that. They are still available out there, and you can get your own rebuilt if you want. I usually keep one in stock so there isn’t too long of a wait time if one is needed.
MF: People leave your business cards on random MINIs in parking lots; it’s even happened to me a few times. How did that start and why do you think so many of your customers do that for you?
PE: Well, I hear so many people say ” I’m so happy I finally found someone who knows MINIs!” I think they just want to let other MINI owners know we are out there. We’re very appreciative of their loyalty and spreading the word.
MF: What’s the craziest customer car you have worked on and why?
PE: Hmmm. I need to think on that. People have had me do lots of crazy stuff.
MF: How did you get involved in MINIs On Top and for how long have you sponsored Sundaes on Friday?
PE: 2014 was our second year doing Sundaes on Friday, and we’re glad to do it. The first time I met Thom, my service writer, was at a MOT, I don’t remember what year. I have gone to all but 2 MOT’s, the very first and 2011 I think. I love that event! Before we sponsored Sundaes, we would always donate prizes and give out water. Even when I wasn’t in business, I donated something to MOT. When we heard a dealer jumped out of Sundaes, we jumped at the chance to do it!
MF: Which MINIs do you guys drive?
PE: I have a 2003 Cooper S , Thom has a 2003 Cooper S and John has an 06 GP.
MF: Thom, tell people about the Firechicken Mcnugget.
TH (Thom Heon): As far as the back story of the Firechicken Mcnugget, I never owned that Trans Am from Smokey and the Bandit, but being a child of the 70’s who didn’t want that car after watching that movie? So, it is sort of, my tribute to it, and the 70’s! I have never raced Burt Reynolds, but I keep seeing a Trans Am like that in town, and eventually I will flag him down for a photo-op!
For those reading this who are true bandit fans, you missed the opportunity to purchase Burt Reynold’s Jacket here for the price of a JCW MINI.
MF: What’s the farthest away someone has come from to have their car worked on at Greasy’s?
TH: I’m pretty sure the farthest someone has come for service is from Laurel, Maryland for a clutch replacement. There is also a guy from NJ that comes for repairs and a guy from NYC that dropped off his MINI Roadster and a bunch of mod parts for us to install and then flew home!
MF: Didn’t you do something pretty special at MINIs On Top?
TH: Yes, I proposed to my wife there! We set it up so she thought we won a raffle on stage. You can check out the video on YouTube.
MF: Pete and Thom, thanks so much for your time, and for supporting the MINI community so strongly.
Greasy’s Garage address is:
143 Hamilton St
Worcester, MA 01604