‘Gearing up’ for retirement

By on February 13, 2019

It’s the end of a local era.

After 55 years of business, Lititz Service Center, 737 S. Broad St., will close its doors at the end of February, according to owner Mike Griffith. A second generation owner, it’s the only job that Griffith has ever known as an adult, but he’s ready to “put the brakes on” and shift into retirement.

The operation first began as the Lititz Chevron Service Station, and was opened by Mike’s father; Robert J. Griffith, in October, 1964. During those days, the entire family chipped in to help.

“I remember coming out as a 10-year-old and helping clear weeds and debris out of the lot behind the property,” Mike said. That strong Lancaster County work ethic would remain a constant through the decades as family members helped out where they could.

It was a true “mom and pop shop” in every sense of the word.

“My mother was the force behind my dad, helping him do the bookwork, pumping gas, working and raising our family,” Griffith said. “She’s still going strong at 90 today.”

Born and raised in Lititz, Mike began working part time for his father in 1970, eventually moving into full-time two years later after graduating from high school. During that time, the operation contained a two-bay garage.

Mike Griffith stands in front of an antique air pump located on the premises of Lititz Service Station. After being in operation for 55 years, Lititz Service Center will close its doors at the end of this month. Photo by Cory Van Brookhoven.

Then in 1972, a third bay and gas island was added. By 1980, Mike would purchase the business from his father, and the station would become known as Lititz Service Center. By the mid 1980’s, Griffith closed the gas island, but continued on as a full service automotive repair shop.

Across five decades, he’s seen more than his share of innovations to the industry.

“The changes in cars over these years have been incredible,” he said.

“Technology has improved reliability in the cars of today. I have seen the introduction of disc brakes and the change from leaded fuel to unleaded fuel. The computer age has completely changed cars as I first knew them.”

He also remembers a time when auto mechanics would perform complimentary service checks to drive-up customers, even if they were only seeking a quick fill-up.

Lititz Service Center owner Mike Griffith (right) is shown here with founder and his father Robert J. Griffith during the 1970s. Mike will be retiring and closing the doors at the end of February after owing the shop for nearly 50 years. Photo courtesy of Mike Griffith.

“When we had fuel, we cleaned windows and checked oil at the pumps, and a casual look under the hood if there was any concerns,” he recalled.

Although he’s ready to retire, Griffith admits that its been an honor to serve Lititz, and is quick to give praise to his customers for their loyalty and trust over the years. He’d also like to thank Robin Griffith, who for many years served as the shop’s bookkeeper and payroll coordinator.

As the end of his career approaches, Griffith is looking forward to spending time relaxing and enjoying the great outdoors. And although he’s looking forward to calling it a day, he admits he’ll miss his customers&tstr;many of whom have become close friends.

“I’ve seen generations of customers coming through my shop, from little kids in the back seat to seeing them eventually bringing in children of their own,” he said. “Sometimes even two and three generations of families.”

“My customers have been the best people around,” he added. “It’s been my pleasure to do repair work for all of them. It’s been a great ride.”

Cory Van Brookhoven is a staff writer for the Lititz Record Express. He welcomes your comments at cvanbrookhoven@lnpnews.com or 717-721-4423. 

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