Foster’s Auto Service celebrates 30th anniversary
— In 1986, the Nintendo Entertainment System was all the rage, “Top Gun” and “Platoon” were among the hot movies, and TV fans were glued to “Dynasty” and “Magnum, P.I.”
It’s also the year Foster’s Auto Service opened for business on Rogers Road.
“Cindy and I bought this building from a couple of fellows,” Steve Foster recalled Monday. “It was a Tucker dealership and then a boat engine garage.”
Foster’s Auto Service opened April 5, 1986.
“I was working for Russell’s,” he said, referring to another North East service station. “My dad told me this building was up for sale.”
To celebrate the anniversary, Foster’s is offering a full-service oil change for $19.86. The service usually
The party atmosphere will likely return July 1 with the business’ annual Cruise In, a classic car show.
While this is the 30th anniversary for the business, Steve was no stranger to being under the hood when he opened. His dad, Elwood Foster, owned the Esso Gas station at the corner of Route 40 and Rogers Road back when it was the main road from Philadelphia to Baltimore.
“One of his customers was General Omar Bradley,” Foster said, adding that Elwood was on that hot corner from 1949 to 1967. When Foster and his wife opened their business, his dad was the first employee.
“Papa was here before us every morning,” Cindy Foster recalled. “He had the coffee made and was reading his Bible.”
Elwood’s morning routine solved one of the early mysteries on Rogers Road.
“We had this potted plant and we wondered why it was dying,” Cindy said. Then they learned Elwood was dumping the spent coffee grounds in the pot. Then there was Alfred. “He was retired and working for a lady doing upholstery and he was bored,” Steve said. Alfred approached the Fosters about returning to mechanical work.
“He was a mechanic at the Studebaker garage in Zion for 40 years,” Steve said.
“I said, ‘ How much do you want to work?’ and Alfred said, “Let’s start with 40 hours,’” Steve said. “He worked for us for 11 years.”
Steve also remembered Alfred’s ability to defuse irate customers.
“There was this guy who worked as a salesman for Rogers Farm Supply. Well his car wouldn’t start,” Steve said, adding this salesman was desperate to get on the road.
“The guy was chomping at the bit,” Steve recalled, adding he would continually ask if his car was repaired.
“Alfred came through the shop rolling an acetylene torch and this guy says, “Do they know anything about my car?” and Alfred says, “I haven’t heard anybody say ‘hip hip hooray,’” Steve said, laughing again. “That was typical Alfred. The guy calmed down afterward and sat in the waiting area.”
Over 30 years, Steve said his mechanics’ roles have changed. They need to be more diagnosticians.
“There’s a lot more training. All our guys are ASE (Automotive Service Excellence) certified,” Steve said.
Cindy said they consider each employee family.
“All of our employees are great, and very faithful. They all get along and play jokes on each other,” she said.
She said the goal of the business has always been to keep their customers safe and to be honest.
“The Lord has blessed us greatly,” she said.
“And our customers,” Steve added.
Cindy and Steve Foster prepare to celebrate 30 years in business at their Rogers Road location.
Cindy and Steve Foster, with sons Ryan and Jason, stand at the entrance to their new Foster’s Auto Service in 1986.
Memorabilia from his family history in the service station business lines the wall of Foster’s Auto Service on Rogers Road in North East. Steve Foster said he has more items he could display if he had the room.