John Kraska Jr. commenced helping out in his father’s auto parts shop at age 7, rolling tires into the setting up.
On Saturday, the tires will have to go someplace else as Kraska Corp., the previous mom-and-pop vehicle pieces shop in the city, shuts its doors immediately after 67 many years.
“It’s time,” Kraska, now 74, stated in an interview Monday. “As my Polish grandfather said, there are two items money can’t get: well being and time. Though I’m healthy, I want to use my time correctly.”
Kraska Corp. was set up close to Kelley Sq. in 1954 by Kraska’s father, John Sr., who had operate a gasoline station and realized Worcester’s independent and smaller sized mechanics necessary additional regular deliveries of sections. The business enterprise grew and, in 1960, the keep moved to Blackstone River Highway in Quinsigamond Village. It has been there at any time considering the fact that, serving area provider stations, car system outlets, dealerships and utilised car or truck heaps, as properly as the weekend tinkerer with the common motor vehicle in the garage.
Kraska, who explained the shop as his father’s “other child,” was a standard existence. But right after John Sr. had two heart attacks though Kraska was a junior at Worcester Polytechnic Institute, the store became a occupation option.
“Maybe he experienced the coronary heart attacks mainly because he assumed I was likely to be a design and style engineer,” Kraska joked on Monday.
Kraska switched to a management diploma and commenced performing comprehensive-time just after his graduation in 1968.
He has turn into a reputable source of components and automobile information for shoppers ever because.
“He’s like a computer he is aware outdated autos like anybody,” mentioned worker Mary Ann Houle.
Kraska stated his organization achievements was really simple.
“We’re proficient and we get the proper sections the 1st time,” Kraska reported. “It’s just establishing a rapport with prospects.”
That rapport was on show Monday as numerous prospects came into the shop to offer you very well wishes on retirement.
“He’s been excellent to us,” Joe Moroski, the lead electrician at Clark University, stated as he picked up motor oil and presented his perfectly wishes to Kraska. “Now wherever am I going to go?”
That rapport also made involving Kraska and his staff members.
“I have an additional occupation, but I hardly ever head coming here,” Houle, an employee of 52 years, explained. “The prospects are awesome. John’s nice. He’s the most sincere guy I know.”
But the auto pieces business enterprise has changed because Kraska took above in 1968.
When he offers name-model elements, his competitors at the significant box retailers typically buy elements and repackage and resell them, Kraska mentioned, so you can not constantly tell what you are obtaining. In addition, leasing motor vehicles has altered the sport some, as leased vehicles are predominantly serviced by dealerships.
“It utilised to be you’d get a made use of motor vehicle for your initially automobile and tinker with it,” Kraska explained. “Now individuals want a lease receipt for their dwelling and a hire receipt for the car or truck they have.”
Then, of program, there was COVID.
Kraska documented that inside of the final 12 months, three of his important shoppers died, four retired, and two shut for the reason that of the pandemic and by no means reopened.
With his two sons interested in other careers exterior of Worcester, Kraska claimed it was time to retire. He stated he has grandchildren to check out and golfing to enjoy.
“I’ve experienced some customers say it is the conclude of an era,” Kraska said. “Some even say that even the odor of the spot is like an outdated-time sections keep.”
Then he smiled. “But you get to a level wherever you never want to operate any more,” Kraska stated.