Ward 2 Councillor Ira Novoselsky will present a special citation from the council to Vin Conte, owner of Vin’s Auto Service on American Legion Highway, at the business’ 60th anniversary celebration and barbecue on Saturday.
Novoselsky has been a long-time customer. “Vin runs a great business, does good work, and is very honorable,” said Novoselsky. “I’ve been bringing my vehicles there for many years. He’s a great guy and he has a great staff.”
Ward 3 Councillor Arthur Guinasso said he first began having his car repair work done at Vin’s in the 1960s. “I was a customer of his father’s (Vincent Conte) and the family has always had a great reputation in the business,” said Guinasso. “It was a great place to go, because you always got a fair shake for your money, and they were always doing a good job for the community in helping all residents. Vin hoped his son would take over the business someday, and lo and behold, his son took it over and carried it forward, and it’s a pride to our community for the type of business he’s run for so many years.”
City Council President Anthony Zambuto is another local dignitary who is a regular customer.
A Revere Institution Since 1961
Vin Conte said his father opened Vin’s Auto Service at 195 American Legion Highway 60 years ago.
“My father was working at Don’s Garage on Broadway,” said Vin. “He liked the business, and Don was a great guy and showed him the ropes. My grandfather gave my father a loan, and my father branched out on his own. He started an Esso gas station on the inbound side to Boston, but nobody stopped in the morning, because they’re all trying to get to work. There was another station on the other side, and my father told the people from Esso that when the owner (on the outbound side) retires, he wanted to come to this side. The guy retired in 1961, and my father came over, and we’ve been here ever since.”
The Key Ingredients to Success
Customers like Councillors Novoselsky and Guinasso keep coming back to Vin’s Auto Service because of its exceptional customer service.
“I think it’s our consistency of service and our attitude,” said Vin. “We try to do the right thing. Obviously, you have to make a profit. You can’t be in business if you just give it away. We try to be as fair with people as we can. We try to bring the best product that we can put out in the market, although right now it’s almost impossible to find product. You can’t get parts and stuff because of the shortages. It’s amazing what’s going on. Even simple jobs, like headlights.”
Succeeding his Father at the Helm of the Business
When his father retired in the early 1990s, Vin Conte took over the leadership of the business.
“I just wanted to carry on the good name,” said Vin, who is assisted by a staff of 6-7 employees, including some highly experienced auto mechanics. He also operates a UHaul truck rental business on the site, while the gasoline pumps are leased to Prime Fuel Service.
“We have a great relationship with the [Prime] owner, Nasser Bussier,” said Vin. “They’re always helping us and we’re always helping them.”
Vin said there have many technological advancements in the auto industry through the years. “The cars are much better and safer today,” said Vin. “The cars are safer because they have the airbags. The airbag system is amazing. The engines and the front ends are better. The braking system is better. The unfortunate thing about cars is that a lot of cars crumble up on impact. There is not a lot of metal to these cars. But that saying, ‘they don’t make them like they used to’ – well, that’s okay, because the way they’re making cars today is really good.”
Vin said he and his staff are always learning more about car repair services. “We’re constantly taking classes,” he said. “Companies like Gem Auto Parts, Fisher Auto Parts, and West Springfield offer a lot of tutorial information for mechanics. We have plenty of written materials as well that we review.”
Rebounding from the Pandemic
Vin’s Auto Service felt the sting of the COVID-19 pandemic in a big way.
“It hurt us,” said Vin. “I never laid off anyone. We were shut down for two months. But I figured we had to be around, because we do emergency vehicles for the city and a lot of truckers. We’ve always been here for this city. We also had to be here for people who needed to go back and forth. We have a lot of nurses as and medical personnel as clients, as well as many other people who needed our services.”
A Family Operation
Vin, 62, said his sister, Donna Conte, has worked at the business.
“And my cousins always remind me that when they were in their teens, they were working here pumping gas, and now these guys are in their 70s,” said Vin. “My cousins, Mikey, Phil and Kathy all worked here. We’ve also had generations of family members working here, the Reinholds, the Gaffneys, Fawcetts, the Drapers. We’ve had some great families work here over the years.”
A Class President at RHS
The anniversary of Vin’s Auto Service is not the only celebration on tap for Vin Conte.
As the president of the Revere High Class of 1977, he is helping to plan the class’ 45th reunion.
“Johnny Festa was our class vice president, Jay DiMare was the treasurer, and the secretary was Linda Galley – we had a great group,” said Vin, who played football and baseball for Coaches Silvio Cella
After his graduation from RHS in 1977, Vin attended Suffolk University and received his degree in business and marketing.
“I’m glad I got my degree,” he said. “It was tough because I was working at the business full time and going to school, so I would take the Blue Line back and forth. I’d do the night shift.”
An avid New England Patriots fan who has attended three victorious Super Bowls, Vin recalled the day that former star running back Sam “The Bam” Cunningham came to Vin’s Auto Service for car repairs.
“I’ll never forget it as long as I live – he came in with a big Chevy Blazer and he had plates that read, ‘Sam Bam’ – so I asked him he was Sam ‘Bam’ Cunningham. He took a picture with us, and I can’t find the picture. He was a great guy, very polite and easy going. He was so humble. I feel so bad that he passed away.”
The future of Vin’s Auto Service
Vin is also a husband and father. He and his wife, Patty (DiModica), have two daughters, Ari, an Emerson College graduate who works in theatrical productions on Broadway (New York City), and Eva, a UConn graduate who works as an engineer.
Asked if retirement were an option in the immediate future, Vin replied, “We’re going to hang in there for as long as we can. I got a good crew. My team is great. These guys are here every day. We’re a family business.”
And on Saturday, the family will celebrate 60 years of sustained excellence in the business.