Construction continues at E-C Servcie Station on South Shore Road, above.
Myrtle, Joe and Chris at the checkout counter of E-C Service Station, above.
ENIGHED — E-C Service Station is getting a makeover.
But don’t worry. Business will continue as usual throughout the construction process at the family-owned gas station and auto repair center.
E-C plans to double its square footage to approximately 8,000 square feet by adding a second story to the building that now houses two repair bays and a small store.
When construction is completed, mechanics will have five additional work bays on the second level. They’ll gain access to the second level with a new driveway which will be constructed at the rear of the building to take advantage of the natural slope of the hillside and minimize the need for excavation.
Diverting most of the repair work to the back of the building should improve the traffic flow and cut down on noise around the pumps, as well as give more space to the mechanics, explained general manager Myrtle Barry.
“We’d been thinking of making changes in response to customer requests for a couple of years,” she said.
“We’ll move the store from where it is to a more central location. We’ll offer more car products and snacks. There will be a little sitting area for customers. We’ve been seeing what’s happening [at service stations] on the mainland where you go in at 7:00 in the morning and get a cup of coffee.”
E-C has already improved conditions for customers by installing two restrooms last summer.
“If you’re going to stay in business, you have to upgrade,” Barry said. “When you build something, you have to build for 20 years ahead; otherwise by the time you build it, it’s outdated.”
Contractor Jimmy Oyola is overseeing the construction which should be completed in December, and Barry promises that the public will be invited to the grand opening.
E-C recently celebrated its 30th anniversary with a musical radio commercial composed and recorded on St. John and featuring the voices of St. Johnian musicians.
When Josephus Williams opened E-C Service Station in March 1984, his children immediately took active roles in the family business. Son Joe Williams is currently the head mechanic, shop manager, and CEO. Daughter Chris (Williams) Todman is the front end manager and service writer. Son Ernest Williams Sr. (better known as “John”) now works for WAPA but remains involved as a co-owner.
Daughter Myrtle (Williams) Barry joined the family enterprise later as the general manager and chief financial officer.
Some members of the third generation work there as well. Chris Todman’s daughter Kisha Todman serves as administrative assistant and personnel manager, and her son Charles Hedrington is a mechanic and shop foreman. And when construction at E-C is completed, Barry’s husband Jerome, a mechanic, will move his operation there.
The company offers a full range of services, according to Barry, including “Brake jobs, oil changes, tire repair, electrical diagnosis, replacing shocks, struts, starters — everything but rebuilding engines. We no longer do that,” she explained, because people have brought in “some pretty old and dilapidated engines…by the time you replace all the parts, it’s too much of a surprise for the customer, and for us as well.”
Barry sympathizes with customers who want the mechanics to rebuild old cars “Sometimes we get attached to our vehicle, we forget that they’re material, and their time comes to pass.
“I myself was attached to a Land Rover I inherited from my mother. There comes a time when you have to say goodbye. Safety is first.”
Barry did not seem disturbed by the opening of the gleaming new Racetrack Gas station located just over the hill. “Competition is healthy. It’s good not to take your customers for granted.” She recalled that when E-C opened, the Texaco station had been in business for years. “Then Domino came to Coral Bay, and the island could sustain the business.”
“What’s important to me in any business is that you’re fair — fiscally responsible; you contribute to your community by paying taxes and providing courteous service,” she said.