Eric’s Auto Service

Dec. 1, 2014
How expansion challenges prompted Eric’s Auto Service to create a neighborhood-friendly shop

SHOP: Eric’s Auto Service
LOCATION: Hamilton, Ohio 
OWNER: Eric Pohlman
SIZE: 5,500 square feet
STAFF: 10 
MONTHLY CAR COUNT: 290 
ANNUAL REVENUE: $1.2 million

1) When Eric Pohlman decided to expand his shop in 2002 from an 80-year-old three-bay gas station and house into a larger repair facility, he had to navigate numerous zoning issues that forced him to create a more neighborhood-friendly addition. The shop’s 40x60 foot addition was added in back with a dimensional shingle roof to make it look more like a house.

“When you’re looking at the building from the front or the back, the neighbors see a roof line rather than a flat roof on an old building,” he says.

2) They also painted the building from a “drab” gray, as Pohlman calls it, to a more neutral brown, which the shop touches up and paints every year in the spring. He also added blue awnings to reflect the shop’s colors and add more character to the building.

3) Pohlman purchased the lot next door in 2007 to create a larger parking area for the shop. He hauled in 200 tons of gravel to level the parking lot, which he seal coats every two years.  He also added a landscaped island out front with blooming flowers and shrubbery. 

“We put the island out front so the neighborhood doesn’t just have to look at a parking lot,” he says. “We get a lot of compliments on it.”

4) At the same time, he also added 16 security cameras to the inside and outside of the building. Although the shop can hold eight to nine cars on the weekend, many cars are still parked outside. This became problematic because of a nearby bar, the patrons of which would often park in the shop’s lot and cause damage.

“We don’t get damage like we used to without the cameras,” he says. “We have some people drop off high-end vehicles as a result.”

5) The original gas station and house were butted up next to one another, so Pohlman knocked down the walls between the buildings and created a larger lobby on the first floor, as well as an office and lunch room on the second floor.

6) The shop now features two entrances for cars, one in the front and one in the back. Pohlman says that the front entrance is reserved for either tow-ins or elderly customers. Although the city does not require handicap parking spots, he says that the shop frequently caters to the assisted living facility two blocks away.

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