CHASSELL - Customers don't always recognize the name J.Bee's Car Care Center, but they can surely pinpoint the building.
"You can't miss it," owner Becky Spodeck said of her bumble bee yellow auto repair shop situated off U.S. 41 between Houghton and Chassell. "Come and see what all the buzz is about."
Opening in November of 2007, J.Bee's Car Care Center specializes in mechanical repair work, from major to minor, on foreign and domestic vehicles. Repairs include tune-ups, oil changes, brakes, exhaust, shocks and struts, batteries, computer diagnostics, among others.
"Basically anything mechanical on the car that doesn't involve collision repair work," Becky said of their services.
There are four bays inside the shop in addition to new sophisticated diagnostic equipment and an alignment rack. Full-time auto mechanic Doug Guy brings more than 25 years of experience to the business.
"He's very talented," Becky said.
Customers will find the waiting area comfortable with complimentary snacks and beverages.
"We always have a full fridge of pop and snacks and a fresh pot of coffee on," she said. "I have it here for my mechanic and myself so when people come in and they're sitting for an hour it doesn't cost me all that much to give them a can of pop and a bag of chips."
For the little ones, Becky has crayons and paper for them to color during the wait. Sometimes, she'll even pop in a video for them.
There's even treats for the dogs.
"A lot of customers bring in their dogs and I just love that so I have treats for them, too," Becky said. "Within the next couple months I hope to be getting a malamute service dog so he'd be here with me at the shop every day."
While 90 percent of J.Bee's customers come from Chassell, simply because of the proximity to where they live, Becky reminds they're not that far from Hancock and Houghton patrons either.
"I'm only five miles south of the Tech campus," she said. "I think that's what a lot of people don't realize."
For students and seniors, J.Bee's offers a 10 percent discount.
"Our saying is, 'We take the sting out of auto repair,'" Becky said. "What separates J.Bee's from other auto repair shops is the level of service customers receive."
For example, Becky said she had a customer from Hancock, an elderly woman who needed fuel lines for her car.
"I had to order them from a dealership and they were going to take a couple weeks to come in," she said. "I told her we have a Chevy Blazer we use as a shop vehicle and that she was welcome to drive that in the mean time."
Having been used to driving her Lumina for several years, the elderly woman declined.
"I thought, well, I have a Lumina so I offered her my vehicle. I don't know of many repair shops where you get to drive the boss' vehicle until your parts come in," she said. "Not that I loan my vehicle out like that all the time, but that was one special occasion and she needed it."
J.Bee's recycles batteries of any type as well as accepts used motor oil and antifreeze.
Becky takes pride in offering customers fast and convenient services at a fair price.
"I pick people up, bring them around and drop them off," she said. "My labor rate is certainly not the most expensive and I'm usually able to accommodate people within a day or two at the most."
Becky said initially, the business was run by both she and her sister, Jen Craig.
"That's how we came up with the name J.Bee's," she explained. "The 'J' is for Jen and 'B' is for Becky. They refer to me as the Queen Bee."
The color of the building was Jen's idea. Becky, on the other hand, didn't know it would be so bright.
"It's not entirely a bad thing though because a lot of people who don't recognize the name know it's the yellow building on (U.S.) 41," she said. "It's noticeably obvious. It definitely brings attention."
Owning an auto repair shop was not a childhood dream, Becky admits.
"I wanted to be a rocket scientist and work for NASA in Houston," she said, adding she attended Michigan Tech for three years majoring in math and mechanical engineering. "I wanted to be an astronaut but I have some physical problems and realized that wasn't possible so I thought, well, I'll settle for rocket scientist."
A fall she took in 1995, led to her taking a leave of absence. In 2004, she returned to Tech and changed her major to marketing. Presently, she is almost half way through her MBA at Tech.
What's most important to Becky is providing reliable quality and honest service to all of her customers. Prior to owning the business she said she wasn't all that familiar with cars and was "taken advantage of."
"It's very important to me that that doesn't happen here," she said. "I will make sure of that."
In the mean time, she's enjoying getting to know her customers as they come in the door and that's what's most fulfilling, she said.
"When I'm here every day and I see my customers when they come in and I'm able to do things for them and get to know them and their families, that's something I really, really enjoy," she said, adding her family played a major role in getting the business off the ground. "This has definitely been a family project."
J.Bee's Car Care Center is conveniently located between Houghton and Chassell at 43777 U.S. 41. Business hours are 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. For more information, call 523-4200.
Editor's note: This feature is part of a paid advertising package purchased by J.Bee's Car Care Center of Chassell. Businesses interested in being featured on the Business page may call Yvonne Robillard at 483-2220.