new public art at lowell’s

In early October, local art group PRHBTN sponsored six new street art murals around Lexington.

One of the biggest new murals is right next to Lowell’s! We can see this huge, beautiful art from our front door, and we chronicled artists Yu-baba and Key Detail as they painted.

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We think that this new mural is part of what makes Lexington and our North Lime neighborhood such a great and unique place to live and work. Come down to lowell’s to see it!

 

north lime

This month, we’re updating our logo, our colors, and our design.

You’ll see these new colors, logo, and design first on our emails, website, and buildings (which are freshly painted), and we’ll continue to roll out the new design throughout all of our materials in the coming weeks.

One new element of the design is the ‘north lime’ designation which goes along with our logo. We are proud to be part of Lexington’s resurgent North Limestone neighborhood, and we wanted to celebrate that in our logo.

North Lime is where we work every day. It’s where we get to see you. We’ve been here for 37 years, and this neighborhood is in our blood.

We’re still here at 111 Mechanic Street, in the heart of North Lime. And we can’t wait to see you here soon!

uncovering a bit of our history

As we peeled away some sixty to seventy years of paint, we started to make out faint outlines of block letters underneath all of those layers.

At first, all we could see was ‘ETE  HOME  F’. Then, below that, we could make out ‘LEXINGTON – DANVILLE’. At the top of the building, we could start to see ‘H & G’.

We were hooked. We wanted to know what was here before.

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We’ve often wondered about the origins of our buildings here on Mechanic Street. We’ve known that our main building was built in 1949, but we didn’t know what kind of building it was.

That changed as we prepared to paint our building this year.

As we scraped away more paint, we could find more clues, but the clues were never very clear. Eventually, it started to look like ‘H & G COMPLETE HOME FURNI’, and we were pretty sure we were dealing with some sort of furniture store. That seemed a little odd, given the structure of our building, but maybe our building was just a warehouse for the store.

Finally, with most of the paint removed, the top line looked a lot less like ‘H & G’ and much more like ‘BAUGH & GARNER’.

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Baugh & Garner Building, 1932 - The original 4-story Baugh & Garner building on the corner of North Limestone and Mechanic. Today, Lowell's stands where the 2 houses behind the B&G building (at the lower left of this picture) are.
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Several internet searches (mainly, the great historical images at the University of Kentucky’s ExploreUK) confirmed that our building was part of Baugh & Garner Incorporated, a furniture store on the corner of North Limestone and Mechanic Streets. The four-story building for the store was built in 1922, and our building at 111 Mechanic Street was built a quarter-century later as a warehouse for the store.

We can’t find any contemporaneous pictures of our building when it was part of the store, but we do have some good pictures of the store itself from 1921, 1932, and 1933.

We’d love to know more about Baugh and Garner – when it started, who ran it, when it went out of business, when the old building was torn down, etc.  If you can share any additional details, please let us know!

 

 

 

How we make recommendations

We look over your vehicle every time you come into Lowell’s to identify service items which might need your attention. We put our recommendations (if any) at the bottom of your invoice, and we prioritize and color-code them for you.

Recommendations

What do these mean?

But what do those color codes mean, exactly? What’s the difference between “Needed” and “Needed Soon”? What is “Due by Mileage”?

We have five classifications we use here at Lowell’s based on your future costs and your safety. Here are the guidelines we use when we prioritize your recommendations, from low to high severity:

  1. DUE BY MILEAGE – For these service items, we can’t  tell whether the service is needed through a visual inspection alone, but your vehicle’s mileage indicates that the service is due.In other words, the service may have been done elsewhere, but we can’t tell. This is why DUE BY MILEAGE often comes up with newer Lowell’s customers. If you’ve recently had the service done, then it probably isn’t necessary. (And be sure to let us know so that we stop bugging you about it.)
  2. NEEDED – These items are likely to create long-term damage to your vehicle if left untreated. They are not safety risks, and we haven’t seen any damage occuring on your vehicle yet.If you choose not to address this item today, monitor that part of the vehicle and consider scheduling this service or repair with your next regular visit with Lowell’s (i.e., the next time you change your oil).
  3. NEEDED SOON – These items are likely to create moderate vehicle damage (less than $750) in the next six months if left untreated. They are not safety risks, but they could be currently damaging your vehicle.If you don’t address this item today, consider scheduling an appointment with us in the next one to two months.
  4. URGENT – These items represent a near-term safety risk or are likely to create significant near-term vehicle damage (over $750) if left untreated. In other words, something could easily go wrong in the near future.If you don’t address this item today, schedule an appointment with us in the next three weeks to repair your vehicle.
  5. CRITICAL – These items are immediate safety risks or are currently creating significant vehicle damage. Vehicles with a CRITICAL classification shouldn’t be driven.If you don’t address this item today, please consider towing the vehicle from the shop.

Based on our experiences with vehicles like yours, we assess how severe the service item could become. Most of our recommendations fall into the DUE BY MILEAGE or NEEDED categories. We only rarely use the URGENT or CRITICAL classifications on a vehicle.

You and your car are unique. You may be able to drive with a problem we’ve identified for quite some time, or you may experience problems sooner than we predicted.

We hope that these categories help give you a general idea of the importance of each item as you review your recommendations. And, as always, you should feel free to contact us whenever you have questions about your invoice or your vehicle.

What do we do with your old oil?

What happens to your old motor oil after you leave the shop?

Most people don’t know. Most people don’t really think about it.

Because oil can easily damage the environment if it seeps into soil or ground water, Lowell’s has recycled your used motor oil for many years.

Motor oil is made up of about 85% oil and about 15% additives. Contrary to perception, the oil component of motor oil doesn’t typically break down. As the oil is used to lubricate your engine, however, the additives do break down as they absorb contaminants. Once those additives and contaminants are removed, the remaining oil can be re-refined and reused as new.

 

When we drain the used oil from your vehicle, we use rolling steel containers with an attached drain pan which helps us catch the oil. We also capture other vehicle fluids — from your transmission, power steering, brakes, and cooling system, for example — in much the same way. When the rolling oil containers fill up, we pump the oil out into much larger standing tanks.

Every two weeks, a recycling service comes to our shop and pumps the used oil into their trucks. We also store used oil filters, which they pick up every few months. After picking up the oil and filters, our recycling service transports the oil to their facility in Columbus, Ohio.

There, they re-refine the waste oil to remove fuel, water, additives, and other contaminants, and they distill the refined oil into new petroleum-containing consumer products. They also crush the oil filters, extract the old oil, and send out the filter body as scrap metal to other recyclers.

Related Post: A greener oil change See how Lowell’s offers high-quality oil changes using recycled oil.

Eighty-six percent of our waste oil is recycled directly back into new motor oil, like Valvoline’s NextGen oil. About 5% is used for asphalt paving and roofing materials. The rest is used for other petroleum-based products.

In the video above, Valvoline explains how old motor oil can be recycled into ‘as-good-as-new’ (in our case, we think of it as ‘better-than-new’) NextGen oil.

Call the shop if you’d like to learn more about our recycling process, or about how you might use recycled products for your vehicle.

A better auto repair invoice

InvoiceHeaderEvery customer deserves to understand exactly what we’ve done while servicing their vehicle at Lowell’s. Over the past few months, we’ve introduced a new invoice design which helps do just that. We built it from scratch to make  it easier to see just what you are getting with every visit to Lowell’s.

After looking at a lot of invoices, we think ours is the best invoice in the repair industry.

But why care about your mechanic’s invoice? Because the invoice tells you a lot about your mechanic, and whether they want you to be informed about your car and their work. Here’s what our invoice does for you:

Easier Reading

New Invoice

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We’ve placed basic information about you and your vehicle along the left side of the invoice, while the main part of the invoice shows details about this visit to Lowell’s.

Making Our Work Clearer for You

We’ve organized the core of our invoice into three sections to help you see what we did (and what we did not do). A dark red bar visually marks the beginning of each section.

Your Service Request outlines the reasons you brought your car into Lowell’s.

What We Did contains the details surrounding the work we’ve done to your vehicle.

What We Recommend tells you about items we noticed during your service which might need your attention soon, along with estimates for addressing each issue.

Job by Job

Lots of repair places lump their work into a big jumble which makes it hard for customers to figure out what they’re paying for. Many dealers, for example, take the labor from several separate jobs and smush it all together into a single big labor charge. That makes it really, really hard to decode what they’re really, really charging you for.

At Lowell’s, we want you to see exactly what you are paying for. For each distinct job in our What We Did section, we show you our labor (in bold) and every part used (indented). These items are grouped together by job – a Lubrication Service, say, is clearly separated from other work, like a Brake System Flush. Our charges for each component of a job are also clearly shown.

The Best Warranty in the Business

We really stand behind our work here at Lowell’s. Most of our repair work carries an unmatched 3 year, 36,000 mile warranty – three to twelve times the warranty of most dealers and other shops for the same work.

Whenever we do work for you which carries a warranty, your invoice will clearly show that with a green “warranty box”, which describes the duration of the warranty for that particular work.

Because we also note the date and your vehicle’s mileage on each invoice, you can easily see whether a repair is still covered. (And if it is, we’ll fix it, of course.)

You Can Plan Ahead

When we notice things during your service which might need your attention, we try to prioritize those items for you in the What We Recommend section of the new invoice.

Related Post: How we make recommendations at Lowell’s.

We color-code each recommendation to help you understand its urgency: Red means that the item represents a potential safety issue, and should be addressed immediately; Orange means that the item could damage your vehicle soon if left untreated; Yellow denotes items which you should address to keep your vehicle operating smoothly; and Gray indicates items which might be due according to your vehicle’s mileage (usually these are items we can’t confirm the need for with a simple visual check and which might have been done elsewhere).

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Our new invoice clarifies our work, and helps you plan how to keep your car running long into the future. We think it reflects the unique ‘spirit’ of Lowell’s toward automotive repair: open, direct, clear, and easy to understand.

As always, we’d love to know how we can do better (with this invoice or any other aspect of our service). Let us know what you’d like to see in the comments below.

No Stupid Charges

Reason #54 from our Why Should I Choose Lowell’s? series.

Since the economy slowed a few years ago, it seems that a lot of businesses have found some ‘creative’ ways to inflate their prices with unexplained (and inexplicable) charges.

These silly fees have found their way into the auto repair industry, too. Some places tack on up to 15% more to your invoice with them.

Here’s a screwball example from a local dealer:

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This invoice describes a fairly standard brake job for $252.88.  But then the dealer goes on to add $18.89 in “miscellaneous” charges:

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In this case, the miscellaneous charges magically add another 7.5% to the bill!

Document Retention Fees. Shop Supplies Charges. Environmental Disposal Fees. Fuel Surcharges. What the heck are these things, anyway?

This dealer is basically making customers pay its bills.  Next thing you know, they’ll just forward their electrical bill to you.  Or tack on a “staff training charge” or a “we-just-bought-new-equipment fee”.  Just kidding.  Hopefully.

We think the whole idea is just silly.

We don’t like it when our suppliers apply stupid fees to us. And we bet you don’t like it either.

So we don’t do it at Lowell’s.

Instead, we figure out a fair price for our service, and quote that to you.  Then – and this is the key – we deliver our work for that price.

That’s it.  Pretty simple, huh?

At Lowell’s, the price we quote is the price you pay. No silly games. No hidden fees. No unpleasant surprises when you pick up your car.

We think that’s a smarter way to run a business. We hope you do, too.

When your car still isn’t right

Hi everyone!  Keith here and today’s topic is a difficult – but important – one.

BrakesWhat do you do when there is a problem with your car soon after you pick it up from Lowell’s? Do you bring it back or do you take it somewhere else?

While you may be tempted to take your vehicle elsewhere, we hope that you will bring it back to us so we may address your concern.  If we ever let you down, we ask for the chance to make things right.

I can honestly say everyone here is dedicated to doing the job right the first time. Sometimes, though, we might miss something or may not communicate something that you need to know.

As such, we’d like to correct any discrepancy there may be.  We try to resolve any issues with customers — however large or small.

If you bring your vehicle back to Lowell’s, I can promise we will do our best to make it right.  If we made mistakes during your service, we can usually resolve the problem at no extra cost to you.  If for some reason you still are not satisfied, please contact Rob personally.

We appreciate the trust you place in Lowell’s, and will always work hard to keep it.

Introducing the Lowell’s Courtesy iPad

We’re always looking for ways to make your Lowell’s experience better.

IPad2You might have gotten a ride to work in our courtesy shuttle van.  If we needed to keep your car for a while, you might have driven one of our courtesy loaner vehicles.  Some of you have even ridden our courtesy bikes around downtown!

Now, the next time you are waiting in our lobby, try out our new courtesy iPad 2!

Use our iPad to cruise the internet, to catch up on news, or even to play a few rounds of Angry Birds while we fix your car!

 

Share the Knowlege

Keith3Hello everyone!  My name is Keith Shelburne. I have been working for Lowells for just over 6 years now, and have been asked by Rob to be a  contributor to the blog.

I have been turning wrenches (as they say) for over 26 years and am an ASE Master Certified Technician.

My objective will be to share my knowlege with everyone on the blog.  Things from the write up to service to what we do when we technicians get your car, as well as any specifics on the cars.

I will try to be as informative as possible without being too technical.  I would like to hear any questions about appointments, personnel, write-ups, training,  service work or technical topics.

Do you have a topic already? Just let me know what you would like to see covered.  Check back soon to see what the first topic may be.

Thanks,  Keith S