Fos­ter’s Auto Ser­vice cel­e­brates 30th an­niver­sary

Cecil Whig - - OPINION - By JANE BELLMYER

jbellmyer@ce­cil­whig.com

— 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

NORTH EAST

costs $45.

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.

CE­CIL WHIG PHOTO BY JANE BELLMYER

Cindy and Steve Fos­ter pre­pare to cel­e­brate 30 years in busi­ness at their Rogers Road lo­ca­tion.

PHOTOS COURTESY OF CINDY AND STEVE FOS­TER

Cindy and Steve Fos­ter, with sons Ryan and Ja­son, stand at the en­trance to their new Fos­ter’s Auto Ser­vice in 1986.

CE­CIL WHIG PHOTO BY JANE BELLMYER

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.

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