Featured Stories

Small business, big impact

Vic's Auto Care Center Inc. continues to provide service and quality for both imported and domestic vehicles
by: vern uyetake Vic Keeler, left, and Michael Keeler are the driving forces behind Vic’s Auto Care Center Inc.  in Lake Oswego. Vic Keeler is semi-retired and generally works on the cars of his choosing.

For the past four years, Vic's Auto Center Inc. has serviced the imported and domestic automobiles of the Lake Oswego community. A high-end automotive electrical shop, Michael Keeler points out that Vic's has always tried to be the shop where people can bring the problems that no one else has been able to fix. There are always at least three technicians (currently four) on hand and all employees follow the philosophy that there's no such thing as too much training. Vic's is also in the process of trying to make the shop more eco-friendly and green.

Next door to the main shop is a restoration shop where Vic, semi-retired, works on the cars of his choosing, generally those of older clients who've been coming to him for years.

'If someone has an issue with their car and I can't fix it, I can point them in the direction where they can get it taken care of,' says Keeler. 'I'd like to be the shop where they can always feel comfortable coming to get advice. There seems to be a lot of unusual problems in Lake Oswego from the standpoint that a lot of people have a discretionary level of income. They often have a play toy or two stashed away in the garage. So whether it's an old Corvette or something else, there are some unique challenges.'

Keeler, as the second-generation family member at Vic's, says that cars have always played a focal role in his life. He lived in California, then Hawaii, then Oregon, and he traces his love of automobiles back to those early Californian days.

'The first time I went out on the track and heard the cars driving around at Riverside, it was pretty much a done deal for me,' he says.

The impact of Vic's within the Lake Oswego community goes beyond automobile services. From sponsoring local sports teams to donating to various causes, Keeler says that giving back is important to the Vic's team.

'We always try to offset what we do here with a lot of community involvement,' Keeler says. 'Vic is involved in Rotary. It seems like we're always volunteering for something, whether it's hanging flower baskets or whatever else is needed.'

Maintenance service, tune-ups, fuel injections, electrical work, air conditioning and carburetor services: The team at Vic's is equipped to handle all car needs. Going to a local place to get these services, rather than a large dealership, has perks Keeler thinks people often overlook.

'From my standpoint, I always seem to get a cold feeling when I walk into a dealership,' he says, 'Not to mention the time it takes to get over there. I'd rather go someplace where I feel like I'm a person instead of a number. It's like the difference between going to a nice restaurant you're familiar with, where they know you, as opposed to going to some mass chain where they could care less. It's personalized service.'

A lot of people assume they need to go to a dealership, Keeler says, in order to receive the work they require. He emphasizes that this is simply not true. A large part of the customer base at Vic's is people who either started as friends or became friends through the process of getting their car serviced. This is the type of place where some of the clients they help now are children of the clients they used to help years ago.

Whether they call or drop in, Keeler says the team is always happy to take in new business. Open from 7 a.m to 6 p.m Monday through Friday, Vic's also holds hours on Saturday as a convenience for those who need to come in and pick up their car or have a simple service, like light bulb or wiper blade replacement, performed.

Vic's is located at 15880 S.W. Boones Ferry Road. The phone number is 503-636-7896 and the website is www.vicsautoctr.com.

Kristen Forbes is a freelance writer. Visit her blog at kris

symick.blogspot.com.