Home Uncategorized Passing the Wrench: Reflections on 30 Years of Business Ownership

Passing the Wrench: Reflections on 30 Years of Business Ownership

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John Bergen. Photo by Riverwood Photography.

From a young age, John Bergen was interested in how things were made, how things worked and how to fix things when they didn’t work. This natural curiosity led to a fascination with cars, especially those he noticed broken down on the side of the road on family trips as a child – ‘kaputt car’ he would point out excitedly to his parents.

Bergen started an automotive service apprenticeship in 1976 and over the course of the next 10 years pursued his interprovincial red seal, taught small engine repair courses and became the service manager (and later the site manager) of the Grant Park Petro-Canada Certigard in Winnipeg.

In 1990, Petro-Canada presented Bergen with the opportunity to relocate to Calgary to manage their flagship location on Macleod Trail. A few years later, Bergen had the chance to buy into the Petro-Canada franchise model with the purchase of Westbrook Certigard and his journey as a business owner began in earnest. In 2009, when the City of Calgary expropriated that land for the LRT extension, Bergen, his team and his customers relocated to Montgomery Auto Service. Following Petro-Canada’s merger with Suncor, Bergen joined many former franchisees as part of the Auto-Select group

Bergen would say he never had a formal mission statement guiding his business, but his principles of honesty, integrity and respect have served him well over the years. In an industry known for its bad reputation, that Bergen has served more than one generation of many families is a testament to his strong values.

Bergen credits his longevity in business to a number of factors – thoughtful mentors, loyal customers, dedicated employees and longstanding relationships with vendors and suppliers. Above all? The strong support system he found in his friends and family. “Though I was responsible for the day-to-day operations of the business, no strategic decision was made without the input and advice of my wife, Michelle. It has been a team effort in every sense.”

Upon announcing his decision to retire, Bergen was thrilled when one of his own employees stepped up to buy the business. Dave Albas and his wife Renee took over as owner/operators of Montgomery Auto Service in April. ”I am deeply grateful for the support of the Calgary community and am so pleased to know that after all these years, our customers can still count on the quality service our business has come to represent.”

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