ENGLEWOOD — After years of working under one roof, partners Thad Gamber and Patrick Tormey have expanded and opened another High Gear location in Englewood.
The pair opened their auto service shop on Avenue of the Americas in 2005. They had met a decade earlier while training at technical school for Toyota. Patrick, 48, and Thad, 41, each wanted to someday own a shop. They, along with their wives Karen Tormey and Katie Gamber, opened a family business in Englewood.
The pair later hired another qualified mechanic, Luke Berry, who enhanced their business.
“Luke worked at a Cadillac dealership in Venice. He wanted to work as a mechanic in the independent world,” Thad said. “He joined us and worked for us for years.”
Like his bosses, Berry also was inspired to one day open a shop of his own. Nearly five years ago he left High Gear to open American Auto & Diesel in Englewood.
Berry grew a customer base. In reviews left by his customers, Berry is known for being “nice and helpful” and cares about doing a good job.
He recently closed his shop and returned to High Gear where his customers can now find him.
“Luke not only brought us his expertise and knowledge of diesel repair, but we also hired his experienced mechanics (Collin Carter and Andy Wetmiller),” Patrick said. “As a result, we’ve joined forces and strengthened our team by adding diesel repair services to High Gear. Now we have a happy expanded staff in one business.”
After working out of their busy shop at 2720 Avenue of the Americas, the Tormeys and Gambers decided it was time to expand. They set out to find another location to better serve Englewood late last year. They discovered an older repair shop in the Gulf Cove that needed some work but seemed right for expansion.
They spent seven weeks rehabbing, painting and installing new equipment. They opened the new shop at 7330 Sawyer Circle — just off Gasparilla Road (County Road 771) and behind the Gulf Cove Publix — just three weeks ago. And their customers are finding them.
“The Gulf Cove area is really growing,” Thad said. “We felt that area is under-served. We are happy to open there. We love the location.”
Open 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, the pair also enjoys meeting new customers. Patrick was at a friend’s house. As he was leaving a neighbor inquired about a good repair show. Patrick’s friend pointed and said, “that’s your man right there.”
“I told the man about how we opened another shop in Gulf Cove to better serve the neighborhood,” Patrick said. “The man brought his car here. We were honest about the repairs he needed. We are going to take care of him. He already brought his wife’s car for us to check out too.”
Thad and Patrick alternate between the two shops, which they anticipate will both be busy year round, as it’s been at their first location for many years.
High Gear is a full-service shop offering alignment, brakes, domestic and import cars and trucks, electronic services, engine and transmission, engine maintenance, heating and cooling services, tires, towing, diesel and transmission services.
“About the only thing we don’t do is body work,” Thad said. “Vehicles today are very complicated. Computers rule the vehicle industry. There’s a lot of training that our mechanics have to work on today’s cars. Things have really changed since we started in the business back in 1994-95.”
High Gear also has an active Facebook page to educate customers about vehicles. The page showcases everything from how to get spiders out of a car to why a vehicle smells and troubleshooting and what to do if a car doesn’t start. They will also answer customers’ questions.
“Our customers like that they can see either of us and that we aren’t just at one shop or the other,” Patrick said. “I can honestly say I know the majority of our customers since 2005 by their first name and know what they drive. For us, it’s been building relationships as much as it is taking care of the customer’s car. We tell our patrons we treat their vehicles the way we would our own.”
For more information about High Gear, call 941-475-0198 or 941-214-8609.