Sparks Auto Service & Towing
SHOP: Sparks Auto Service & Towing LOCATION: Westland, Mich. OWNER: Cory and Gary Bailey SIZE: 15,000 square feet
STAFF: 9 (4 technicians, 2 shop helpers, 2 advisors, 1 general manager) MONTHLY CAR COUNT: 275 ANNUAL REVENUE: $975,000
1) An original 1925 Ford Model T prominently adorns the lobby floor. Formerly the showroom of a dealership, the lobby is visible from the street thanks to floor-to-ceiling glass windows on three sides. The Model T belongs to co-owner Gary Bailey’s father-in-law, who has owned the car for more than 50 years after buying it from a friend who found it under a tarp in a barn.
“He had it in his garage and we convinced him it would look better here,” says Gary, who owns Sparks with his brother, Cory. “We’re on a busy road so it generates a lot attention. I have had people stop in for a picture of it and leave.”
The car is also a project for Sparks.
“It hasn’t run in 18 years,” Gary says. “This spring we’re going to rebuild the carburetor and get it on the road. … It has ‘Sparks’ painted on its side. We want to get it as some mobile advertising and in parades.”
2) Gary says that more than anything, he wants to serve his customers. Besides a large-screen television that one can watch from a reading chair in the lobby, Sparks allows patrons to help themselves to fruit, pastries, a bottle of water, a fresh cup of coffee, or other goodies available in the refreshments area.
“We always have fresh fruit and snacks out for the customers,” Gary says. “We have a conference room that we make available for our customers if they have some work they need to do while we’re finishing up with their car.”
3) Gary’s dog, Ella, is a regular shop visitor and Sparks encourages customers to bring in their four-legged friends.
“I always have treats here for dogs and humans,” he says. “It’s a stained cement floor so we’re safe for messes. It works out well.”
4) The versatility in the shop also makes Sparks stand out. Gary says his techs will handle domestic or import, antique or fresh off the dealership lot. Although fixing antique cars is a miniscule part of his business, the team will attempt to fix any problem, rather than turning someone away.
“We just had a restored Model A in the garage,” Gary says. “It needed just some small electrical repair, but we’re fearless. We’ll tackle most anything.”