MINDEMOYA – Keller’s Garage has been a feature on Mindemoya’s main drag for 40 years and will continue to be thanks to a changing of the guard that took place recently. Perry Keller said goodbye to the garage business that bears his name and officially passed his keys on to new owner Jody Narozanski. The occasion was marked with cake, of course.
Mr. Narozanski is the new owner/operator and Gore Bay’s Tyler Sloss, a familiar face to many Islanders, will be acting as general manager. Janice Abbott will remain as office manager and technicians Peter Dunlop, Animkii Koostachin and Brandan Paquette will stay as on as technicians in the shop. Sumo the mascot dog will be there to greet customers too.
Mr. Narozanski tells The Expositor that his lifelong love affair with vehicles began while working at Belanger Ford in Sudbury for almost 16 years. After dabbling in a few other car-related ventures, Mr. Narozanski began Driving Forward with Tammy Laflamme—a used car dealership located on the Kingsway in Sudbury—and the Driving Forward brand will now be featured in Mindemoya too with used cars for sale on the garage’s small corner lot.
“We will have around 50 cars available between the two lots with a comprehensive online presence,” Mr. Narozanski said. Driving Forward also boasts over 20 different vendors and caters to those with credit issues.
Mr. Narozanski said he has been coming to Manitoulin for 40 years and in case you were wondering, yes, he’s related to the Narozanskis of Pepper Point in Sheguiandah. Father Mike sings in the St. Bernard’s Catholic Church choir.
“I’m not reinventing the wheel,” Mr. Narozanski said. “He’s been in business for 40 years because of the success that he’s built,” he added, referencing Mr. Keller, who was there for the celebration.
Mr. Sloss was with the Ford dealership in Little Current, Island Ford, before Ford shuttered the dealership in 2005—part of a nationwide closing of
some of their stores. While heartbroken, Mr. Sloss picked up and moved on to Belanger Ford, where he met Mr. Narozanski.
Throughout the years the two remained friends, sending business one another’s way when they could.
Mr. Sloss worked at The Rock Harley Davidson for 10 years and dabbled in the mining equipment industry before getting a call from Mr. Narozanski, offering him the chance to return home and work with him.
“It didn’t take much thought,” Mr. Sloss admitted. “I knew of this business my entire life.”
“I always wanted to come home,” Mr. Sloss continued, “and I’m happy to be doing this with Jody. It’s not easy to do something like this on your own.”
Mr. Narozanski explained that Mr. Keller would be staying on for the next little while to help them transition “and to continue the tradition of customer service that Keller’s brings.”
Mr. Narozanski said that Keller’s Garage would continue to pride itself on strong customer service. “It’s like family. That’s what customer service is—treat people like you want to be treated.”
Mr. Narozanski said he was so excited about the official grand opening that he parked his travel trailer in the driveway the night before in order to be at the garage bright and early on his first day.
“It’s been so much fun seeing people I haven’t seen in years,” Mr. Sloss added, encouraging people to stop in and say hello.
Mr. Keller said he had an official ‘work clothes burning’ after his final day as owner/operator of Keller’s Garage. “It felt good,” he added.
“It’s an exciting time,” Mr. Keller told The Expositor. “I’m going to take some time off, do a bit of travel. I will probably be here part-time. Being an employee is already hard; it’s going to be a change.”
“I’ve had a great 40 years,” Mr. Keller continued. “We tried to do the best can could, taking care of customers, and had so much community support too.” He recalled the early days of a one bay garage that also served to house the Central Manitoulin ambulance that he helped to operate as a volunteer.
“I look forward to seeing that name still being there and watching it expand more and more,” Mr. Keller said of his namesake garage.
To reach Keller’s Garage, call 705-377-5444.