It all started with a '67 Chevelle convertible that needed work and a new top.
"That was my first car. It had a rag-top that was barely there, and a straight six-cylinder that barely ran," John Stonum said about his first car. "I got it when I was 15 from odd jobs and paper route money. I had it running by the time I was 16."
Stonum has come a long way since that Chevelle, and this week the story opens a new chapter when his repair shop moves to its new location just off the Ken Pratt Boulevard on Sunset Place in Longmont. Stonum has outgrown 1116 Colorado Ave., where he first opened shop in 2004.
"I started out with 2,000 square feet, then each time a tenant moved out I was able to take over their unit, so I now occupy four of the units," Stonum said. "So I've been blessed by being able to grow without having to move."
"This building is almost 14,000 square feet, so we are almost double of what we occupy now," he said.
The new facility is expected to open today. Stonum says it will be a lot easier to find, as it sits on a corner. He built it on a vacant lot, with all the things his old location lacked: high ceilings, a lot of parking, and 16 service bays.
"I think we can do more business with the extra space, better location, more parking. My old shop is tucked into an industrial area, so now being right off the Diagonal, I hope that will help."
The "new" Stonum Automotive includes a spacious lobby and waiting area complete with free wifi, coffee, TV and a children's play area. And then there's the service.
Once again in 2014, Stonum Automotive was voted the "Best Auto Repair Shop/Service" in Longmont by the readers of the Times-Call newspaper. Awards are nothing new to Stonum, but he says all that really matters to him and his crew is the service.
"It has to first start with honesty. I ingrain that in my crew, I have really good employees who believe what I believe. Start with honesty, treat people the way you would want to be treated," Stonum said.
"We do a good job of explaining what you need and why you need it. We'll take people out and show them their car; it helps the person who doesn't understand automotive. We show you what we find, and explain why we are recommending what needs to be done or repaired.
"Consumers and customers here are wonderful," he continued as workmen put the finishing touches on the new shop floor. "We try and treat them like family, and they keep on coming. We must be doing something right."
But John Stonum does have one small regret. He sold that '67 Chevelle a long, long time ago.