Since 1978, Pleasant Street Auto has grown to two locations and more than 30 full time employees who service over 12,000 customers per year.
IT WAS JUST A DREAM
To William "Bill" Johnson, owner and operator of Pleasant Street Auto, it was just a dream. Young Bill, a Granby, Massachusetts native, was an ambitious 21-year-old with nothing but a love of cars, mechanical know-how and an overwhelming drive to start his own business.
That's when, in 1978, he opened Bill's Auto Body on Route 202 in Granby as a part time effort. Three years passed and his reputation for quality work grew, giving him the ability to open a larger shop on School Street in Granby as a full time venture. It opened on July 5, 1981.
By the fall of 1981, business was booming and Bill hired his first employee. In 1982 Bill bought his first wrecker, a 1953 Chevrolet, and thus added towing to his ever-growing business. Less than a year later, his expanding customer base prompted him to hire a second employee and move to a new location: 50 Pleasant Street in Granby.
THE MOVE TO PLEASANT STREET
Bill's Auto Body saw continued success at it's central location between Granby and South Hadley. In 1986, Bill took on mechanical-repair-specialist Steve Stathis as a business partner. With the addition of mechanical repairs, the building at 50 Pleasant Street became inadequate for their expanding services. The two partners located a dilapidated structure down the road at 72 Pleasant Street that needed substantial work: a new roof, new doors, updated electrical system, new heating sytem and extensive cleaning. Seeing the possibility for success through the debris, the building was purchased. It took almost two months to get the building ready for business.
Recalls Bill, "That was a real hectic time for us. We were busy working in our shop during the day, and then trying to get the new building ready at night and on weekends-- I don't know how we did it!"
PLEASANT STREET AUTO BODY AND REPAIR IS BORN
Opening on October 15, 1986, the establishment was incorporated and named Pleasant Street Auto Body and Repair with six full-time employees, including Bill and Steve, all dedicated to expanding the corporation.
Used cars were added to the mix at Pleasant Street Auto in 1988, and less than a year later, two additional full-time employees were hired. In 1989 Amber Energy was added to the growing list of businesses. By 1993, Bill had bought out all the shares of Pleasant Street Auto and Amber Energy, and was again on his own.
In the following years, Pleasant Street Auto became a true family affair. Bill's wife Tracey began serving as office manager in 1993. Bill & Tracey's sons, Rob and Dave, began their careers at Pleasant Street Auto by sweeping the floors, cleaning the garage and bathrooms, and taking out the trash when they were each 12 years old: Rob in 1990, Dave in 1994. After some time Rob joined the company full-time in 1995 working with Hampshire Towing, and Dave became full-time in 1999 working in the office. Both boys learned the ins and outs of running a business at an early age.
THE BUSINESS EXPANDS: NEW LOCALES & MORE TOWING
During the fall of 1994, Bill opened a second location in South Hadley at 91 Main Street. This new location evolved into Pleasant Street Mechanical Repair, Tire & Lube Center. That same year, Bill purchased Hampshire Towing from long-time friend and former employer, Robert Ahern to further expand the corporation and the towing division of the company. Bob came
to work at Pleasant Street Auto to run the Body Shop.
The years that followed brought additional customers to Pleasant Street Auto when Automotive Solutions was purchased in 1996, and also New England Auto in 1998. Bill also expanded the family towing operations that same year by purchasing Belchertown Recovery in 1998, which lead to the purchasing a medium-duty wrecker to handle the larger vehicles.
Towing operations expanded further with the purchase of 3 separate car carriers: one in 1995, 1997 and 2000. Four years later, the company added a heavy duty wrecker for large recoveries. This brought Hampshire Towing's fleet up to 6 vehicles.
A NEW CENTURY
By the turn of the century, Pleasant Street Auto employed over 20 people, with the body shop in Granby and the mechanical shop in South Hadley. Both facilities saw a steady stream of work throughout the following decade, however, they were feeling the strain of confinement. The mechanical and body shops took on as much business as they could handle, but in many senses their growth was "maxed out". There was little room for new equipment and expansion was severely halted by the size of the facilities.
In 2009, the Johnson's were approached to sell their property on the corner of Pleasant Street. It was a bittersweet and sentimental decision to make. The Johnson family loved their location at Five Corners in Granby, but saw the potential for immese growth and prosperity in a new and bigger facility. A CVS is now located in place of the old Pleasant Street Auto building.
THE BIG MOVE TO NEW LUDLOW ROAD
In 2010, property was purchased just over the Granby town line on New Ludlow Rd, in South Hadley, approximately 2 miles away from their previous location on Pleasant Street. Their goal was to centralize all of the auto businesses including both the auto body and mechanical shops, Hampshire Towing, and also Amber Energy. As the fifth location of the Johnson's auto businesses since 1978, they all agree this one is the best by far. They are confident that they made the right decision in moving to New Ludlow Rd: after their first year in South Hadley, business doubled.
Currently Pleasant Street Auto has over 40 full time and part time employees, and a modern collision facility for passenger vehicles and a 60 ft paint booth for commercial trucks. The mechanical department is equipped to handle all types of repairs and front end alignments. The towing division, Hampshire Towing, now has a fleet of 23 vehicles. They can
transport vehicles or equipment of any size. In addition they have 24 hour-a-day road side service for all passenger and commercial vehicles. In 2013 a Hertz franchise was added to give customers the ability to rent a car on-site. The front office at Pleasant Street Auto is staffed 24/7 to allow for convenient drop off and pick up of your vehicle. The staff also handles all emergency calls for each of the companies.
Today a customer can drop off or pick up their vehicle at one central location for whatever type of repair is needed. Or, if required, your vehicle can be safely towed by Hampshire Towing to Pleasant Street Auto. While your vehicle is under repair, you can trust that it is in excellent hands with any one of our Pleasant Street Auto technicians. You will be welcomed into our extended family and treated to pristine customer service. Be confident that you are On the Right Street with Pleasant Street!
View looking towards Rt. 202 from Pleasant Street
The four original PSA Employees (Not pictured: Bill & Steve
The Johnson boys learning the ropes!
Left: Rob in the garage, age 8 Right: Dave in the office, age 8