After 50 years in business, Bruce Blakeslee, the owner of Bruce’s Pit Stop on Elmira Road, has seen some difficult times. But throughout them, he’s pressed on, and he now owns one of the longest-lasting businesses in Ithaca. We sat down with him to talk about the different experiences he’s had during his 50 years in business and what he sees for the future of Bruce’s Pit Stop.
Ithaca Times: How does it feel having been in business for 50 years now?
Bruce Blakeslee: I’m tired. It feels good. I don’t work quite as long hours as I used to but the hours I am here, I can see my customers and still provide the great service.
IT: What have been some of the highlights of your tenure?
BB: Just building up a good customer base, seeing the same people week after week, month after month, year after year, and expanding services to meet their needs.
IT: What have been some of the challenges in keeping this business alive?
BB: More competition in the oil change business and automotive in general. A lot of companies have tried to put me out with free oil changes and whatnot, but I’ve withstood it and am still standing. I kind of relate to Rocky [Balboa] in the movie [“Rocky”]. That’s how I’ve done my entire career.
IT: What does make your business stand out amongst all the rest?
BB: We have low overhead, so we have good prices on brakes and tires and oil changes. A lot of places make you leave your car, but ours is in and out on all the items. I think that makes us stand out and it lets people know they can trust me.
IT: How do you want your business to continue in the future?
BB: I’ll probably do this till I drop—unless I can win the lottery, then I’ll hang it up.
IT: Did you ever consider leaving the business at any point?
BB: No, not really. None of my kids really want it. I enjoy it. I’m gonna keep doing it the way I’ve been doing it. I’ve got a good staff that believes in the way I do business who, when I’m not here, will carry that out.