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THE FRONT LINE: Mechanic steers into 'new' essential role

'I realized pretty quickly how crucial we were to keeping the economy going,' said Devan Craft of Craft Auto Repair Services

Most people will tell you the thing they want most in a mechanic is honesty.

Devan Craft of Craft Auto Repair Services is just that, even when talking about the importance of his work.

“When the COVID-19 situation first hit, I thought maybe my job was not all that essential,” said Craft. “I don’t know, I first thought that (Doug) Ford made it a little loosey-goosey as far as who was allowed to stay open. I am glad though, that we got to stay open from day one of all this.”

Craft has since changed his stance on how important he and his profession are to the province, especially as some of his customers are personal support workers and hospital staff.

“I realized pretty quickly how crucial we were to keeping the economy going in that vehicles need to get fixed, especially for those in the medical field,” said Craft. “We have many who come here and are emergency personnel and getting them to work is something that helps all of us.”

As more and more people start going back to work, he is as busy as ever.

“We’re swamped now. It has to do with not just regular services being done, but people’s cars were sitting in their driveways and their brakes needed work, some cars were having trouble starting. Little things but with many going through them," he said.

Craft admits there were a few things he had to get used to when it came to his new daily routine.

Wiping down the steering wheel and anything he would have to touch meant the shop had to stock up on Lysol wipes and there are bottles of hand-sanitizer throughout the building. The waiting room is off limits for hanging around but there is a large piece of Plexi-glass that separates his staff from customers.

Craft and shop employees even had to slow down their process of getting cars into the building when they couldn’t grab a few keys at a time to make the shop fill up faster.   

“You’re used to just jumping in cars and trying to get them in quick so the owner can get going, so it took a little while getting everything into a new groove,” said Craft. “But I have two sons and my wife at home, with my oldest boy having asthma. I have to make it is safe for the customer and my family.”

Craft has been a mechanic since 2002 and his shop at 17 Gowan Street has been open for over six years. He said he is a bit of an old-school mechanic but the pandemic made Craft adapt with the current times.

“It is a bit crazy to think we’re going through this, but we are and we have to think of others,” said Craft. “Quality work is still the most important part of this job, but maintaining a safe environment is equally as important right now. My customers need to know they’re safe.”

Craft added that he, too, needs to feel safe and customers have been understanding.

“We know life gets hectic and vehicles get messy, especially for those of us with kids. But I want to feel safe and my staff to feel safe, so we ask that people clean their car before coming in, he said. "A good tidying goes a long way to make us feel safer.”

Craft Auto Repair Services prefers that an appointment is made so staff can prepare for an arrival. Their contact information is available at their website here.


Shawn Gibson

About the Author: Shawn Gibson

Shawn Gibson is a staff writer based in Barrie
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