Boston bombing, search and apprehension rattles auto aftermarket firms

Business got back to normal in the greater Boston area following last week’s Boston Marathon bombing and the search and apprehension on Friday of one of the bombing suspects in nearby Watertown, Mass. Automotive aftermarket businesses interviewed by VehicleServicePros said people in general are talking about the bombing, search and apprehension since it was a traumatic event.

Boston area business owners interviewed noted that business is largely back to normal and that they received a lot of phone calls and emails from friends and acquaintances expressing sympathy and asking if they can help.

Direct Tire & Auto Service in Watertown, Mass., which is located half a mile from where the suspect was apprehended, was closed Friday when the city was under police lockdown, noted Andrew McWhorter, service adviser. “It was a pretty unprecedented situation,” he said. McWhorter said the company does not have a formal disaster relief plan, but when the citywide lockdown was announced on Friday, all 25 employees at the Watertown location were contacted by phone and told not to go to work.

Everything was back to normal on Saturday, McWhorter said.

Nick Antoun, who operates two Shell stations and two repair shops in the Dorchester neighborhood of Boston, got an automated call at 9 a.m. Friday morning instructing him to close his businesses for the day. He noted that much of the city was deserted for the entire week. “It was almost a ghost town,” he said. “This whole week was kind of messed up.”

Antoun said things began to get back to normal on Saturday for himself and his 10 employees. He noted the bombing created a lot of inconvenience and lost business.

Auto Precision Center, located in Watertown, never experienced a similar situation in the 23 years the company has been in business, noted Prokupets Anatoly, company owner. He also said that everything for himself and his five employees was back to normal on Saturday.

“It’s the only thing people are talking about. It supersedes everything,” said Rick Snyder, manager at All Star Auto Service in Marlborough, Mass., which is about 45 minutes from Watertown.  Snyder noted that the disaster underscored the need for businesses to have a disaster emergency plan. While All Star Auto Service did not have to implement its disaster emergency plan, Snyder said the company has a plan in place. The company implemented a plan with the help of its insurance carrier following the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attack in New York City.

Snyder said the company, which has 31 employees, hadn’t thought about its disaster emergency plan a lot since 9/11. “This came up 11 years ago, then it all went by the wayside and we didn’t think about it,” said Snyder.

Craig Van Batenburg, who operates the Automotive Career Development Center in Worcester, Mass., received a lot of calls and emails from people from as far away as Europe after the bombing occurred last Monday. While Worcester is more than an hour from Boston, Van Batenburg said many of his friends and associates wanted to know how he was doing.

In response, Van Batenburg sent an email to people he knows to let them know he was okay. Van Batenburg was attending the SAE International World Congress in Detroit, Mich. when his wife, Deb, called him Monday afternoon with the news about the bombing. He immediately drove back to Worcester to be with his family. He noted that he and his wife met in Watertown.

“It was a good thing to get out,” van Batenburg said about his email, which he sent out after arriving back home. “When this happens in your back yard, it affects you differently than if you’re thousands of miles away.”

According to, a Boston area news website, a Cambridge, Mass. auto tech said the apprehended suspect, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, was in his shop on Tuesday, visibly nervous, the day after the bombing.

Gilberto Junior, a Cambridge tech who owns Junior’s Auto Body, said Tsarnaev had dropped off a white Mercedes to have a bumper and body panel repaired, the news website reported. Junior had planned to start the job on Wednesday, but the suspect came into the shop on Tuesday. Read the report.