GROTON -- In and out of business for himself since 1978, Wilson's Service Center owner Gary Wilson's advice to anyone else thinking about self-employment is to know your customers and play well with others, in particular the government agencies whose rules and regulations every businessman must learn to live with.
"The state and federal government regulations don't really interfere with the way I do business," said Wilson. "I've found that a lot of times, the rules and regulations that they do put out eventually come around to complement your business. Customers like to see the entire facility smooth and clean. Appearances are everything, especially in a quality environment like the Groton area. The more you try to agonize over issues in town, the harder it will be. That's just a bad attitude to take. If you have the correct attitude, everything falls in line."
And falling into line seems to be the name of the game at Wilson's, whose garage operates with assembly-line efficiency. Working in the opposite manner of hospital emergency room triage techniques, Wilson moves out those automobiles with lesser problems first, then concentrates on those with more involved issues. That way, he is able to take on the heavy load of customers his business attracts.
"I think this area, particularly Groton, is extremely good for what I do," said Wilson. "In times like these, nobody can afford to buy new cars. They prefer to repair the ones they have and keep driving
As for the lack of other auto repair businesses in the Nashoba Valley, Wilson said it was not for lack of customers.
"Most people don't keep up with the technology, so they don't last," said Wilson. "There's way more than enough business in the area for everyone."
Employing five experienced mechanics besides himself, Wilson's garage, at 455 Main St., looks deceptively small from the road. To the rear, however, two large bays give access to an interior roomy enough to hold several automobiles at once.
"My father owned a repair shop in Littleton where I learned mechanics pretty much on the job," revealed Wilson, who also attended Nichols College, earning a degree in economics and personnel management.
As he gravitated toward the auto-repair business, he opened his first garage in Groton at 318 Main St. Leaving that, he worked as a mechanic in a high-end vintage race car repair shop for a few years and attended a succession of automotive seminars before entering business for himself again, eventually opening at his current location.
"Groton was a place where I knew I could make enough money to survive," said Wilson of his reasons for staying local. "It's a good location, and I was pretty well known in Groton already. It took a little bit to get going, but after a while, after people learned that I was here, business picked up."
But while other businesses in town, particularly those dealing with automobiles, need space to store many vehicles, Wilson said he has not found the town's zoning regulations particularly onerous or overbearing.
"Honestly, I really don't pay attention to it," admitted Wilson of possible municipal interference with his business. "Not particularly, anyway. I just follow the rules that are set out and do whatever the government mandates. That way, I don't have any problems."
In return, said the Littleton resident, he has done well in difficult economic times.
"Residents in the area have been very supportive of my business over the years," Wilson said. "But again, that goes along with attitude and how you represent yourself and your facility. If you want to succeed in your own business, you need to pay attention to everything."
In the end, Wilson was more than satisfied with the commercial environment of the Nashoba Valley area.
"I definitely would recommend the region for anyone else who wants to start a business," concluded Wilson. "That's because there's always a place for someone willing to put out the time and effort. All it takes is a good quality person and business."
To find out about the service center's services, visit www.wilsonsservicegroton.com.