Three generations of the same family have been steering a local iconic auto repair business into success based on the humble start of a drag racing-entrepreneurial owner and one mechanic. And, that family is still seeking new ways to accelerate community giving because they believe in the magic of collective neighborhood support.
"It's eye-opening to see how community connections help us grow personally as well as grow our business opportunities. Coming together allows us to blend great ideas and enhance community support from the inside out. Many more opportunities are available when you step outside your own business door," says Laura Aloisio, second-generation co-owner of Dave’s Automotive Repair Enterprises (DARE), with her brother, Jonathan Aloisio.
Several of the business's current services, offerings and community interactions were made possible by DARE's namesake, David Aloisio, fondly called Dave by those in the community.
“Giving back started with my dad,” Jonathan says. “He wanted to do things for people, always.”
Dave's Automotive staffers proudly sponsor community-related events, activities or service vehicles for local nonprofits clients who have little or no resources. They assist with purchasing vehicles for clients of Friends Association, Home of the Sparrow and North Star of Chester County. The shop also keeps the buses of The Arc of Chester County in tip-top shape so drivers can pick up children and adults with intellectual developmental disabilities and autism and transport them to the center to receive services.
David Aloisio, who sadly passed away in February at Neighborhood Hospice, no doubt would be proud of what's still occurring at the shop—especially the original, innovative type of initiatives—because he liked creating things from the ground up. He enjoyed performance cars and started building engines as a teenager while growing up in Brooklyn, New York. In 1976, his dream of having his own business became a reality when he opened DARE on Gay Street in West Chester.
Today, Jonathan and Laura own and operate the business at 301 S. Bolmar St.
Members of the Aloisio third generation, Jonathan’s sons, J.T., Tyler and Christopher, join them in carrying on David’s legacy of putting family first, providing outstanding customer service and customer satisfaction, and giving back to the West Chester community.
“We take pride in being a family-owned business,” Laura says. “Our family values extend throughout the shop to our technicians and across the counter to our customers. We're proud to create local jobs and partner with other local businesses and organizations. Our company is a vehicle for positive change in our own lives and in our community.”
Working hard for positive outcomes has long been a goal threaded throughout this auto business. David, a Vietnam War veteran, was discharged with honors from the U.S. Marine Corps in 1967. That year, he got married and moved to Kennett Square, his wife’s hometown. He co-owned Blitz Automotive in Kennett Square, then worked at K&G Speed Shop before opening DARE. While repairing cars and rebuilding engines, often alone, David's business grew quickly, and he soon needed additional employees and a larger space. DARE moved to its present location at the corner of Bolmar and Union streets in 1979.
Jonathan, gifted with his father's mechanical skills, began working in the shop in 1984 when he was in high school. Laura joined them in 1998, bringing her considerable talents for organizing, managing and marketing.
Laura says their father was a calculated risk-taker and understood the potential of good ideas when she and Jonathan presented them to him.
"Dad was open to letting things happen and to be explored," she adds.
As the firm’s technical visionary, Jonathan saw the potential for expanding services. Unlike some business owners who balk when the next generation suggests changes, David was very receptive to Jonathan’s ideas—and to both his and Laura’s ability to follow through and manage the new service when it was up and running.
In 1998, Jonathan’s Auto Outlet, a full-service dealership, was born. Buying and selling cars to customers and to the public, Jonathan discovered a niche in the market, and sales grew from 10 cars a month to 40 cars a month. The addition of titling services and local financing brought the auto outlet business full circle. The addition of a full-service detail shop, Between the Seats Detailing, offers its customers a “one-stop shop” for automotive needs.
As evidence of the company’s success and its dedication to the West Chester community, DARE was named “Business of the Year” in 2012 by the Greater West Chester Chamber of Commerce. In 2018, Dave completed 10 years as a member of the board of the West Chester Area YMCA. For his dedication to West Chester, he received the Gary R. Green Community Impact Award. Laura since joined the YMCA board, maintaining their family's commitment.
Despite David’s passing, Jonathan says he still feels his father’s presence.
“I worked side by side with him 10 hours a day for 30 years,” he says. “Even when he retired, I talked to him every day. I don’t remember ever not being here with him.”
Jonathan and Laura both say they're determined to keep pushing toward "making things happen" for both their family business and for being a responsive community business partner.
"It's truly rewarding when we determine how to put new ideas and assistance into play," Laura says.