By Tom Davis
Milton, Newfoundland and Labrador — November 27, 2017 — Following 48 years as the owners and operators of Baker’s Autobody in Milton, Newfoundland and Labrador, John and Joan Baker have decided to retire from the business they constructed using lumber they cut themselves.
“This decision didn’t come easy, but after 48 years the wife and myself took a long time to make this decision,” commented John Baker. “It didn’t come overnight. I have to face reality, my health, and my age. I just have to accept what life gives you.”
The business was first founded after John Baker was laid off from a nine-year stint at Duffitt Motors in Clarenville, Newfoundland and Labrador. In 1969 the duo built a small garage from self-cut lumber, which was just about large enough to accommodate two vehicles at any one time. With just themselves as employees, Baker’s Autobody was born.
The pair have faced challenges most in the industry would find hard to comprehend. After just two years of building the shop, a fire tore down the building. Reluctant to quit, John and Joan constructed another shop and reopened the business.
They moved to their current location in 1997, which has since undergone numerous renovations to keep it in line with the fast changing landscape of collision repair. This was also the year they handed over the reins of the family business to their son, Glenn. Following the sudden and tragic death of Glenn in October 2016, John and Joan once again took over the operation of the business.
The Bakers’ credit their son for progressing the business, and keeping up with the ever-changing technology in the industry. The shop is now the only aluminum-certified shop in the local area and is I-CAR trained. “As the technology improved, he wanted to follow the technology and keep going full steam and building [the business], until we got where we are today,” said John.
To officially announce their retirement, the bodyshop hosted a small company party where employees, friends and family gathered at Baker’s Autobody to celebrate John and Joan’s time in the industry.
Junior Peddle, owner of nearby Clarenville Ford, is now the new owner of Baker’s Autobody, while Chad Dicks will be manning the day to day operations. Dicks previously worked for the company for some 13 years, and has now joined as the Manager.
“John and Joan have been dependable small business owners in the local community and the collision repair industry as whole. It’s sad to see them leave the industry but their retirement will give them some well-deserved time to travel and see their family,” commented Dicks.
The Baker’s have now travelled to Alberta to see their grandchildren in the first vacation they have taken in years – well deserved in our opinion. Collision Repair magazine wishes the couple well in their future endeavours.