by Alana Quartuccio
Three generations of the Pastore family have continued to make Town Auto Body the premier choice for collision repair and automotive needs in the Montclair area. The business has been going strong since 1956 when Joseph Pastore first opened the business in a small garage on a side road off of Grove Street. In 1981, he moved to the Grove Street location where the business has been for the past 42 years!
This founding father would go on to bring three of his children into the business. His sons and daughter – Joseph Jr., Tom and Tina – all continued to grow with the family business and are still involved today. In 1989, Tom Pastore went on to open Town 2 Autobody in Hamburg (featured in the January issue, available at grecopublishing.com/new-jersey-automotive-january-2024/), while Joseph Jr. and Tina remained at the Montclair body shop.
Now, the second generation has begun to take a back seat as the third starts to take over; Joseph Jr.’s son, Kenny Pastore, is now taking the reins at Town Auto Body, and his brother, Joseph Pastore III, serves as one of their many skilled technicians. Both Tina (who manages the office) and Joseph Jr. are still involved with the business, though they are in the early stages of retiring. Joseph Jr. still does some maintenance work and keeps himself busy, but he “ rightfully deserves to slow down,” according to Kenny.
Although Kenny grew up around the business, it wasn’t until high school when he was made to realize the family business was something he could consider for his own future. “We had a house in upstate New York, and I lived up there for a few years. One day, someone asked me what my father planned to do with the business, and I realized it was my duty to come back.”
He made the decision to go to Pennsylvania College of Technology to study collision repair and automotive business. Since graduating eight years ago, he’s been working at the shop, and for the past four years, he’s been focusing on taking the reins from his father. Kenny’s next move is planning for the future as he knows his father and aunt have to officially retire at some point, and he can’t fully run the operation side of things alone.
“We work to get a lot done, and we also try to enjoy it, relax a bit and have fun too. Working in a family business can be tough as family pressure can be a little harder. My father has said that many third-generation businesses have a tendency to fail, but I want to prove him wrong.”
What’s kept Town Auto Body successful all these years is their reputation, which they’ve worked hard to build and sustain over the past six decades. They work with about a dozen DRPs, and word of mouth also plays a big role in driving cars to their bays. The Town Auto Body team takes training seriously and puts the time and investment in to earn I-CAR Gold and ASE accreditations, which are proudly displayed on the waiting room walls along with their AASP/NJ membership certificate. They also believe in investing in equipment annually to keep up with what’s needed to fix cars right. They do everything in-house and truly are a full-service collision repair center.
Customer satisfaction is key, and they achieve this by striving for quality in all they do. “We will go above and beyond what other shops do,” he pledges. “We have crazy operating procedures with color matching and washing vehicles. We’ll wash the cars three or four times before we return it to the customer. We go out of our way to make sure the car looks better than it did when the person first bought it.”
Over the years, the shop has felt the challenges that industry issues, such as parts and technician shortages, but they continue to persevere and make things work. Kenny says having four technicians was the lucky number at one time, but now he’s up to seven technicians. They are busy as ever, and it can be a challenge trying to find room for the cars on their lot.
“Finding technicians was a problem 20 years ago, but it’s now gotten much harder,” he admits. “COVID-19 led many to find other jobs in areas that weren’t as hard on the body. Many decided to retire. A lot of industries have been affected by that. The future may be shaky, but I am just going to try to keep doing this for as long as I can.”
As longtime members of AASP/NJ, being involved with the association brings great value to the Town Auto Body team. “We are all in the same boat,” he says of his peers in the association. “It’s nice to see other people in the same boat. We all have the same goal to make a living and earn for our families and keep our businesses going.”
The Pastores appreciate the information and the connections they get from AASP/NJ. Kenny says his father reads all the magazines (including New Jersey Automotive) and “will highlight things and put them on my desk for me to read the next day.”
When it comes to his chosen career, Kenny has found that seeing the process through from start to finish is what he loves about it most.
“No one realizes the work that goes into it all, even just putting a bumper on a car. It’s the process I really like and seeing people happy. Delivering a good product and trying to keep our name and reputation strong is what keeps me going…that and coffee,” he shares with a smile.
Want more? Check out the February 2024 issue of New Jersey Automotive!