By Dawn Krebs
PORT ST. LUCIE - Bill Fitzgerald has spent his entire life around cars.
He has gone from a child watching his father work on cars to an adult getting under the hood himself. But while technology and cars have changed over the years, what hasn't changed is how he wants to treat people that came in to have their cars fixed.
"I knew if I ever opened my own shop, I would put my customers first," he said.
He got the opportunity to do that last year, when he took over ownership at Village Green Tire and Auto in Port St. Lucie. It has been in the area for 25 years, and Mr. Fitzgerald is excited to improve upon an established business.
"When I took over, I changed out the older equipment, cleaned up the shop and added personnel," he said. "This is now an AAA-approved facility and that's a very difficult standard to achieve."
The shop can do any type of auto repair and diagnostics. His technicians are ASE-certified, and one technician even specializes in high-end imports such as Mercedes, BMW and Audi.
Mr. Fitzgerald believes what makes his business successful is how he treats his customers.
"I give the level of care that people deserve," he said. "I'm here every day, so I can address the customer's needs."
He pays close attention to his employees as well.
"It's important to make sure my employees are taken care of," he said. "I pay my employees a salary instead of commission. Commission breeds dishonesty, and I don't want my guys to have to sell extra things to feed their families."
The results have kept Mr. Fitzgerald and his crew busy throughout the week.
"My perception is that we're here to provide information to the customer - the things that are right, the things that are wrong and what maintenance they might need down the road," he said. "We work hard, and are fair and honest."
Mr. Fitzgerald understands in this difficult economy, people's jobs can be jeopardized by an untimely breakdown. It might also be hard for some to afford to keep their cars maintained. That's why he has teamed up with the company Tranzgroup to offer a program called Flexxbuy, which will allow customers to finance their repairs and make payments on the balance.
"This will allow them to get the repairs they need," he said. "I'm excited for this, because it gives me another way to help people get what they need."
So no matter what the needs are for a customer's car, Mr. Fitzgerald is ready to offer not just great service, but peace of mind.
"You're purchasing more than a service here," he said. "You're purchasing a product, and we will stand behind that 100 percent."
Village Green Tire and Auto is located at 1439 Village Green Drive in Port St. Lucie. It is open from 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday and from 7:30 a.m. to 12 p.m. on Saturday. For more information, call (772) 335-5220.