Excerpt from Colonial Times Marketplace
LITTLE FOREIGN CAR IS BIG ON SERVICE AND QUALITY
Everyone has at one time or another felt the uneasiness that comes with trying to find a trustworthy mechanic -- someone who will treat you and your car with respect and not surprise you with additional costs.
Well, the search is over. Little Foreign Car Garage of Waltham, with its owner, Ken "Skipper" Hull of Lincoln, is on the job.
Skipper and his sister, service manager Judie Hull-Maker, work together each day with a team of highly skilled automotive technicians to ensure that their customers get the absolute best service at the absolute best prices. And they insist that at Little Foreign Car Garage there are never any surprises. Sitting behind his desk, Skipper enthusiastically explains that there are many reasons to bring your car here, but the most important reason is the trust he establishes with each and every customer.
Skipper says, "We pride ourselves on the level of trust we establish with our clients. There are never any surprises here because we communicate with our clients every step of the way." He adds, "No work is ever done until our clients are informed and it is agreed that the work will be done."
Little Foreign Car Garage has been family owned and operated since it first opened in Waltham in 1967. And, except for a brief move to Lincoln from 1974 through 1976, Little Foreign Car Garage has been servicing the automotive needs of area families from one generation to the next. Skipper proudly proclaims he now services the vehicles of the children and grandchildren of some of his original customers. He says, "You know you're doing something right when three generations of the same family choose to bring their cars in for maintenance, service and repairs." He believes that his customer loyalty stems from the trust that he has established, combined with the skill of his technicians and the array of services he provides. Skipper says confidently, "There may be shops that do some of the things we do. But there are no shops around that do all the things we do."
From the moment you enter Little Foreign Car Garage, you know you're in a special place. Far from a typical automotive shop, the walls in the reception area and offices are adorned with beautiful photographs of natural wildlife scenes (taken by one of Skipper's automotive technicians). In the break room is a chess set where Skipper and his team can unwind during breaks with a challenging match.
The shop itself is clean, organized and equipped to handle the wide array of services they are called on to perform at Little Foreign Car Garage. They offer a complete line of services including, but not limited to, scheduled maintenance, complete engine and transmission rebuilds, alignments and wheel balancing and complete mechanical restoration.
On any given day you can enter the shop to find new BMWs, Jaguars and the like lined up next to older Toyotas and Subarus. Skipper explains that the beauty of his shop is that they service every aspect of all foreign cars -- from simple service items to extensive mechanical work. He says, "Whether it's a BMW or some other high-performance vehicle, or the ten year old Toyota someone drives to work every day, we will fix and maintain your car to the manufacurer's standards." He continues, "Our expert automotive technicians are highly trained and skilled to perform work on any foreign car. Sure, they like the challenge presented by high-performance vehicles, but they're every bit as satisfied when they can identify and repair a problem for someone who depends on their vehicle to get through the daily grind."
Armed with a Bachelor's degree and a Master's degree in engineering from Lowell Technical School (now UMass Lowell), Skipper turned a basic interest in combustion engines gained from his father, uncle, and grandfather into what he calls a completely satisfying career. He explains that his interest in automotive maintenance stems from spending time with his dad as his dad visited garages in the course of his work. Soon enough, Skipper found himself tinkering with a 1959 MGB, a vehicle he still owns today.
It's not unusual to find Skipper and his technicians in the shop on the weekend rebuilding a Ferrari racing engine. But Skipper points out that the real challenge in the industry is keeping up with the technological evolution of the everyday vehicle. "Since the gas crunch of the 1970s, Skipper explains, "new technology has been introduced to both maximize the use of fuel and the overall efficiency of the automobile itself. The introduction of fuel injection and the computer chip have changed the face of the everyday service center. The fact that our team is highly skilled and educated to take on high performance challenges has prepared us to handle today's changing technology." He continues, "While other shops' technicians are behind the learning curve on new technology, we are ready to do the work and break the problems down into simple understandable terms for the average person."
When asked why someone should choose Little Foreign Car Garage over other shops, Skipper explains without hesitation, "Our high level of communication skill in helping the customers understand what their cars need and why." He also points to the fact that "there are never any surprises when you come to pick up your car in terms of the cost of the job. And our work exceeds factory service recommendations. It's our objective to build a rapport with our clients so they not only come back, but tell their family and friends about us too."
Skipper points to his sister Judie as the pulse of the operation. He says, "She is essentially the one who acts as liason between our clients and the technicians. She understands the fears associated with maintaining a vehicle and helps alleviate any concern. Judie is an important part of what we do here and we're fortunate she's with us."
In his down time, Skipper enjoys rebuilding engines, sailing and basketball. He has served as president of a Watertown business networking group, is a member of the Chamber of Commerce, and belongs to numerous automobile clubs.