In an age of self-service pumps and gas station/convenience stores, Joseph's Garage in Norwell remains an old-fashioned service station.By Fred Hanson The Patriot Ledger
NORWELL - The changes that have taken place at Joseph's Garage over the years haven't come by choice.
Joseph's sold new Pontiacs, until General Motors discontinued the marque in 2010.
The Pontiac blade sign that still hangs out front is a replica made by Mass Sign in Rockland in 2008. The original was donated to the American Sign Museum in Cincinnati after replacement parts became unavailable.
There was a Coke machine that still dispensed the drink in glass bottles, until they couldn't get any more bottled Coke to put in it a few years ago. Empty glass bottles remain.
"We used to have people come by just to buy the Cokes," said John Joseph, who runs the business with brother Art.
"Change isn't exactly something we're big on," Art Joseph said.
At Joseph's, there's no self-service gas. There's no convenience store, just service bays in a sprawling building on Main Street in Norwell Center.
"There are less service stations than convenience stores in the area," Art Joseph said. "We'll just keep doing what we do better."
A fourth generation of Josephs is now working in the business, which was started in 1928 by John and Art's grandfather Herbert B. Joseph, who handed it down to sons Art Sr. and Philip.
"Everyone starts at the bottom, pumping gas and sweeping floors, like our dad and uncle before us" Art Joseph said, adding that he entered the family business when he was 9. "Now our nephews are doing the same."
When workers need to be hired, Art Joseph looks for people who are personable enough to chat with a customer for the couple of minutes it takes to fill a car's tank with gas. He acknowledged that some customers are busy talking on their cellphones.
Both Art and Phil are graduates of Babson College, and both have different roles in the business. Art handles more of the office work and the used-car sales, while John's domain is the garage.
On one recent day, Art joked that none of the cars being worked on that day was newer than a 1986 model, and that some of cars they had for sale were cars they sold years ago when they were new.
He said he likes the relationships they've built over the years with the customers, and the challenge of solving a problem with a vehicle.
As for whether the fourth generation of Josephs will take over the business, Art Joseph said it's too soon to tell.
"You start running out of people who want to do it," he said. "Everything we do here, there will be a need for in the future. There's something about having a Joseph name on the building and having a Joseph there."