By Rod Lee
Even he didn’t choose to wear his blue Bloem’s Auto Repair shirt (which is nevertheless standard attire), it would be obvious that Steve Bloem has “mechanic” written all over him.
Customers of Bloem’s Auto Repair, which is situated in a two-bay garage set in from the road at 194 N. Main St. in Uxbridge (just north of the Hannaford shopping plaza) know and appreciate this.
Mr. Bloem and his wife Sherri lease the property from Sue Vanderzicht.
Mr. Bloem, who is in his late forties with the receding hairline that so often accompanies the advance of time, is a master diagnostician who relishes figuring out where every “rattle, clunk and electrical issue” comes from. He puts his customers in mind of the veteran country doctor making a house call who can pinpoint the cause of a cough, head congestion or stomach ache without so much as a blink of the eye.
“You have to diagnose it,” Mr. Bloem said last Tuesday afternoon in discussing his career in the automotive repair field (Bloem’s is marking a 25th anniversary as a full-service auto-repair shop in 2018). “Every day is different. It’s never the same thing.”
What does remain a constant is his commitment to doing the job right; and standing by his work.
He comes by both an affinity for cars and trucks and a yen for problem solving naturally.
His grandfather, Frank Bloem, launched what has become a third-generation family business way back in 1949 “next door to Rose Motors, where Uxbridge Gas is now. I started working in my dad’s garage at the age of eleven,” Mr. Bloem said, of the tinkering he did under the supervision of Donald Bloem.
Don Bloem took over the business in the 1970’s. Steve, who went to Valley Tech for Automotive and who worked briefly for Hathaway Transmission and Tri-State Subaru, assumed command in 1993.
Times have changed. “My dad’s toolbox was primitive,” he said. His own requires “keeping up with the training” needed to service today’s highly computerized engines.
Bloem’s moved from 400 N. Main St. to its current location in November of 1995. Rick Costa, Mr. Bloem’s right-hand man, joined the shop the same year and has been “Tonto” to the “Lone Ranger” ever since.
“He treats me well,” Mr. Costa said of Mr. Bloem.
Mr. Bloem said that he and Mr. Costa think along the same lines and so there is a compatibility between them that doesn’t always exist between employer and employee.
The small office alongside the garage from which Mr. Bloem answers telephone calls, scribbles notes on a desk calendar or writing pad or patiently and thoroughly details to customers what work has been done on their vehicles seems at first glance to be uninviting. The news that there is an “additional charge for installing parts or materials purchased elsewhere” is prominently displayed. While that is true, the admonition that “we shoot every third salesman and the second one just left” is not—so far as anyone could tell.
Mr. Bloem’s reputation in the community is that of someone who is honest and humble.
“I’m not a self-promoter,” he said. “Maybe I should be more like Bob (of Bob’s Furniture). Or Tim Hare (of Harbro Auto Sales).” Mr. Hare, he said, is a pro when it comes to establishing a connection with people that generates patronage in return for Harbro.
While not as “rah rah” as some other businesspersons, Mr. Bloem can point with pride to the many customers of Bloem’s who are “repeats.”
As Sherri Bloem, who runs the office for her husband, puts it, “we want to keep that relationship we have with our clientele.”
“We’re on the third and fourth generation, grandkids and great grandkids of people who came to Bloem’s when my grandfather had the business,” Mr. Bloem said.
To that end, although Bloem’s sells some cars, “our main focus is repair.” This is Bloem’s bread and butter.
The urge to “get bigger” has tugged at him from time to time. Mr. Bloem has wisely resisted the temptation, electing to “stay small.”
Bloem’s is a full-service garage and Mr. Bloem is the steady ever-attentive guiding hand. He describes himself as “a control freak.”
“When people walk through the door, they want to talk to me,” he said. “It’s a good thing and it’s something that gets lost today.”
Contact Rod Lee at [email protected] or 774-232-2999.