Longtime Auto Technician Opens Repair Shop in Montpelier
2 minute read

By Amanda Kuhnert

When the timing belt blew on his first car, then 16-year-old Dylan Partridge knew he had to learn a few things about auto repair. He fixed the timing belt and started apprenticing at a repair shop near his home in Connecticut. This was the beginning of a lifelong passion for automotive troubleshooting.

“I like to look at a problem and figure out a solution,” he said. “I also love talking to customers and helping people out.”

After attending Denver Automotive & Diesel College, Partridge moved to Vermont to continue his career. He held long-term management positions at several local garages before deciding, after 22 years in the industry, to open his own garage. 

Several years into the search for a space, a repair shop on Elm Street in Montpelier came on the market. Partridge reached out to Charley Ininger, an advisor with the Vermont Small Business Development Center (VtSBDC), for help. 

“When I started this process, the bank wouldn’t talk with me until I talked to Charley,” Partridge said. “He helped me build my business plan so that I could get the loan I needed.” 

The unexpected

After he closed on the property, Partridge set to work turning the two-bay garage into a business, from purchasing tools and diagnostic equipment to learning how to keep his books. Coming up with a name was the easy part. He decided on Carswell’s—his middle name. 

“The struggles I thought I was going to have are not the struggles I’ve been going through,” Partridge said. “I thought I was going to be a one-man show for a long time. Finding a good technician these days is really hard.” But two technicians he had worked with at previous shops came on board right away. 

Customers, on the other hand, were harder to find. “I’m doing a lot more advertising than I thought I was going to need to do,” he said. His first step was applying for a permit to hang a sign letting people know he’s open. He also took out radio ads.

When asked what advice he has for other skilled tradespeople who want to go into business for themselves, he said, “Double the amount of money you think you need. If it’s a trade you’ve been in, all you have to do is do your job and do your job well. When I’m getting nervous about whether I can make this work, I remind myself: ‘Just do your job.’” 

Carswell’s is open Monday through Thursday, 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Services include free loaner vehicles and pickup and delivery for added convenience. For more info, visit carswellscars.com.

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