lowell’s wins 11th “favorite auto repair” in 2021 Readers’ Choice Awards

2021 Favorite Auto Repair

For the eleventh time, Lexington Herald-Leader readers have voted Lowell’s their “Favorite Auto Repair” in the 2021 Readers’ Choice Awards.

 

This Readers’ Choice Award is our 21st first-place award (11 from Herald-Leader readers, 9 more Best of Lex Awards from Ace Weekly readers (even though Ace hasn’t run the awards since 2011), and last month’s Best of 2021 Award from Preferred Mechanic.

We are humbled and honored to have the support of our wonderful, wonderful customers. We are also very grateful to have such thoughtful and skilled employees. We promise to keep improving our service to keep deserving your appreciation.

Thank you so much,
Rob, Suzanne, and your Friends at Lowell’s

lowell’s wins 2021 Readers’ Choice Award for “favorite oil change”

2021 Favorite Oil Change

lowell’s has been chosen as Lexington’s Favorite Oil Change in the 2021 Readers’ Choice Awards. Lexington Herald-Leader readers choose their favorites in a variety of categories, and Lowell’s won the oil change category.

This marks the first time that lowell’s has been selected as the best place to get an oil change! Thank you so much for your votes. We’ll do all we can to earn this award.

lowell’s selected #1 out of 370 mechanics in Lexington

#1 of 370 mechanics in Lexington!

Preferred Mechanic evaluated 370 mechanics across Lexington, and chose lowell’s as the top mechanic in town for 2021.

For their Best of 2021 awards, Preferred Mechanic ranked shops across the nation based on customer reviews, ratings, awards, and multiple other criteria. On July 1st, they named lowell’s as the #1 mechanic in Lexington!

The Best of 2021 Award makes the 20th time that lowell’s has been selected as the best mechanic in Lexington. We’ve also received 10 Readers’ Choice Awards from Herald-Leader readers, and 9 more Best of Lex Awards from Ace Weekly readers (even though Ace hasn’t run awards voting since 2011).

We’re always driving to offer the very best auto repair service. If you ever notice anything we can do better, please let us know.

pandemic policy updates

We are relieved to see that the COVID outbreak is diminishing as we enter the summer. We hope that you and your families are well.

Last March, we implemented several measures to prevent viral spread among customers, employees, and suppliers. We know that our policies have not always been convenient, but keeping everyone safe is our highest priority.

Now, we are updating some of those policies and procedures as we continue to learn more about the virus and how it is transmitted. And while many of us are now vaccinated against COVID, most still aren’t and many of us still have vulnerable family members.

With these updates, we’re attempting to balance the ongoing risks with the knowledge that spread is becoming less likely this summer.

Here’s what is changing:

  • Wipe-downs optional. We had been wiping down hard surfaces inside every vehicle with sanitary wipes when getting into and when exiting each vehicle. We had also been using seat and steering wheel covers. Because surface transmission isn’t a major vector for COVID transmission, we’re making that policy optional. Some employees like the general cleanliness of using the wipes and covers, they may continue to do so. If you’d prefer that we continue to wipe down your vehicle, just note that preference when making your appointment or dropping off your vehicle.
  • Gloves optional. We had been requiring each employee to wear latex or nitrile gloves when driving your vehicle. Again, because surface transmission risk is low, we are making that policy optional as well.

Here’s what remains the same (for now):

  • Masks are still required at lowell’s. We require that all customers, employees, and suppliers continue to wear masks inside lowell’s. If you prefer not to wear a mask, we are happy to meet you outside.
  • Customer shuttle is still suspended. If you need to get on with your day, you may drive yourself wherever you need to go in one of our courtesy loaner vehicles.
  • Waiting area is still closed. If you need a place to wait, we still offer use of our loaner vehicles as a kind of personal waiting room.

As the risks continue to fall throughout the summer, we anticipate revisiting and updating these policies, and we will update you when we do.

beyond toyota

For nearly 40 years, we’ve specialized exclusively in Toyota and Lexus. We were the first independent shop in Kentucky to do so. We built our reputation for honesty and reliability on Toyota and Lexus vehicles.

Customers always ask if we can work on their non-Toyota vehicle, and we politely decline.

Until today.

We’re now extending our award-winning service to other brands.

Toyota and Lexus will remain the foundation of our business. But we know that we can honestly and reliably service other brands of vehicles as well, and we have decided to do just that.

So we will begin taking appointments for other brands of vehicles immediately.

If you are one of the many customers over the years who always wished that lowell’s serviced other vehicles, that wish has come true!

let lowell’s come to you!

vehicle pick-up & delivery by appointment

We know that it isn’t always convenient to leave your vehicle with us, especially when our lives are so disrupted right now.

For a limited time, lowell’s is offering free vehicle pick-up and delivery anywhere in Lexington.

Here’s how it works: We will drive to your home or office in one of our loaner vehicles. and pick up your keys and car (and leave the loaner vehicle with you to drive, if needed). When we are finished, we will drive your car back to where you are.

We sanitize both vehicles when we pick up or deliver your vehicle.

Our number of pick-up and delivery slots each day is limited, so be sure to reserve your spot by calling the shop (859-233-1173), and we will work out the details of getting to you and exchanging keys.

keeping everyone safe

We hope you and your loved ones are well.
Here at lowell’s, we’re still open, but we know that your vehicle is not your top priority right now. The coronavirus pandemic has altered life for all of us.In case you need us, however, we wanted to tell you how we’re confronting the pandemic.

On Monday, we redesigned every element of our operations in order to protect our customers, our employees, and our community. I told our crew that we needed to transform into, in essence, a hospital which works on cars.

We see these as long-term changes to the way we do business. We believe that the coronavirus pandemic is here to stay, and this is the way we will conduct ourselves going forward.

There are 3 big visible changes to your lowell’s customer experience:

  1. No waiting in the lobby. We’ve removed seating from our lobby, and are offering our sanitized loaner vehicles as a comfortable place for you to wait (or drive) while we work on your car. (You can still come into the lobby to drop off your car, if you like
  2. Optional in-lot drop-offs and pick-ups. Just call us, and we can come out to your vehicle to exchange your keys and check in or check out.
  3. Suspended shuttle service. While we know that our shuttle has been convenient for many customers, prolonged closeness in a shuttle presents too many risks to you and to us. If you need to get to your work or home, feel free to use one of our loaner vehicles.
We’ve also made a host of other behind-the-scenes changes, including sanitizing every touchpoint in our shop and in your car.If you want to know all that we’re doing to protect you and your vehicle, please read the same emergency operations plan our crew uses each day. (We’d love your input, too. If you see flaws or gaps in our plan, please let me know.)

We’re grateful for every day we get to serve you.

Be safe and be well,
Rob

UPDATE 5/7/2020: Since posting this in mid-March, we now require all employees to have their temperatures checked before starting work each morning. If they have a temperature, they are sent home with pay. We are also required to wear masks or facial coverings while in the shop.

lowell’s history – part 1

As part of our 40th anniversary in October, we thought it would be nice to take a look back at part of our history. Lowell wrote the following retrospective in 2008 – mere months before I bought lowell’s from him. Lowell relates how we got started, how we ended up on Mechanic Street, and how we came to specialize in Toyotas.

Next month, I’ll the story of how I came to lowell’s. Enjoy! – Rob

Lowell’s Story

In 1979, I was a contented service manager at Muncie Buick in Winchester. I was paid well, had a new Buick to drive, a 40 hour work week, paid vacation, paid holidays and a good boss, Tommie Muncie. We lived in Madison county.

I have always been interested in business and while working at Muncie I started to buy old cars, fix them up and resell them. This had been going pretty well and was bringing in a little extra income. Our children were one- and five-years-old and we had just purchased our first home, incurring a sizeable mortgage payment.

One Sunday morning Betty, my wife, was reading the Lexington Herald-Leader when she noticed a garage for rent on Mechanic Street in Lexington. We had two or three cars we were working on and thought this would help solve the storage problem we were having. We jumped in the car and drove to Lexington to check it out.

The garage was 4000 square feet, about five times the size we needed to store cars. We walked around the building and peeked in the windows. Bluegrass Automotive, Towing, and Repair was the current renter. Our business name was created by adding “Lowell’s” to the top of the Bluegrass Automotive sign. Voila!  Lowell’s Bluegrass Automotive.

The next week I met with Louden Byrd, known as “Red” Byrd, the owner of Bluegrass Towing.  I bought most of the equipment he had in the shop.  Red assured me that with the repair customers he had and the towing business he owned, he would be able to supply me with all the “broken” cars I would need to make a fortune.

Now came the hard part.  I had to tell Tommie Muncie I was leaving to start my own business.  I can still remember standing in his office. He pointed out the rate of failure for new businesses and made me a couple of offers that were hard to refuse, but I had made up my mind. I was going to make the leap.

While at Muncie I had hired a 16-year-old, Danny King. Danny came with me as a mechanic to open Lowell’s. Note: Danny has stopped in over the years to say “Hello”.  He is now a grandfather.

Lowell’s was scheduled to open on (I believe) the first Monday in October in 1979. In a panic my mother called me from Cleveland telling me I couldn’t open that day as it was Yom Kippur, a Jewish holiday. I wasn’t very observant at that time and didn’t know about it.  So before we had a chance to open… we closed. The following day we opened.

The string of cars promised by Red Byrd didn’t quite appear. Our current two-day sales are higher than our sales were for our first three months in business. We struggled in the early years.  Danny would work on cars, and I would also work on cars and run the business. It would be over a year before I started drawing a paycheck. In 1980, my pay was $3500 for the year, and was $7800 in 1981. This was half what I was being paid at Muncie, and with no benefits. Danny worked six days, and I worked six days and came in on Sundays to do the books.  I didn’t take a vacation until we had been in business for three years.

Gradually our sales increased, as well as the number of our employees. In the early 80’s I thought it would be a good idea to specialize. I decided on Toyota, Datsun, Nissan and Honda. At that time general repair garages, such as ours, were sending their “foreign” car customers to the dealers. I thought this was a good opportunity. We quickly dropped Datsuns and Hondas and would only take new customers if they owned a Toyota. It was hard to turn away sales, but in the end it paid off.

My family moved to Lexington in 1989, cutting our commuting time from 40 minutes one way to five minutes. We loved country living but Lexington has more to offer.

We are a true family business. Betty started helping part-time and her hours increased as our children grew up.  Amy, our daughter, has helped us in the past, assuming many different duties. Brian, our son, has been working here officially for 12 years. Before that he would spend a lot of his free time here helping and tinkering with junk cars and parts we had lying around. He is now our service advisor, technical advisor, and computer guy. He spends the bulk of his time dealing with customers and technicians. Undoubtedly he has the most challenging job in the shop. Brian also has a great knack for diagnosing cars when technicians run into a difficult problem.  My father (paid in coffee) helps with our letter and postcard mailings.

Over the 29 years we have employed four husband-and-wife teams, children of employees, and various brothers and sisters.  We have attended weddings, births and funerals. I have been the best man at weddings (twice for one tech who was married twice) and Betty was the Lamaze coach for an employee.

Our years of owning our own business have and continue to be a challenge, a challenge on which Betty and I thrive.

Thank you all for being a part of our first 29 years.

Sincerely,

Lowell and Betty

lowell’s wins 2019 Readers’ Choice award

For the ninth time, Lexington Herald-Leader readers have voted Lowell’s their “Favorite Auto Repair” in the 2019 Readers’ Choice Awards.

This Readers’ Choice Award is our 18th first-place award (9 from Herald-Leader readers, and 9 more Best of Lex Awards from Ace Weekly readers (even though Ace hasn’t run the awards since 2011).

We are humbled and honored to have the support of our wonderful, wonderful customers. We are also very grateful to have such thoughtful and skilled employees. We promise to keep improving our service to keep deserving your appreciation.

Thank you so much,
Rob, Suzanne, and your Friends at Lowell’s