When Bill Caillier started University Place Radiator in 1979, cars were very different beasts. Today, radiators are made of plastic, but back in the 70’s the bronze nature of the part made repairs more like metal work, and Caillier was a self-taught pro.
His skills and work ethic allowed the business to thrive for 37 years and now, with Caillier riding off into the sunset of retirement, UP business owner and Bill’s cousin by marriage Greg Taylor and his son in law (also Bill’s cousin) Ryan Kentfield have taken over the shop, and is looking to continue the businesses’ pristine reputation as University Place Radiator and Auto Service.
“Bill was never formally trained. He’s self-taught. The guy worked for 40 something years straight and never took a vacation, ever. He just worked. Being a local guy and being very kind, his personality and attention to detail resonated in the community,” Taylor said. “It was quite an art, and he was a really good metal worker.”
Taylor has owned a motorcycle shop next to UP Radiator and Auto Service for 15 years, and Kentfield is a certified master technician at Lexus of Fife. They struck up a friendship with Caillier, and when retirement came calling the former owner knew exactly whom he wanted to take over.
“He said, ‘I really would like you to have you take over when I retire because when I run into one of my customers they’ll be happy because I know how you run your business.’ When he said that, I was honored,” Taylor said.
Taylor’s philosophy is “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” As long as the integrity of the shop is upheld, he knows the business will be successful.
“Our plan is, we know this company was built on integrity, so we will never, ever, ever recommend something a customer does not need. We make every repair and diagnose as accurately as possible. We’ll always do the right thing for our customers no matter what, the same stuff as Billy did,” Taylor said.
Of course, this doesn’t mean the business won’t expand their services, which offer much more than just the radiator services the company was built on.
“With Ryan on board, our capabilities as a repair shop have increased dramatically because of Ryan’s extensive training,” Taylor said.
Taylor hopes the shop will be his legacy. Not only does his family work there, but the employees are like his brothers and sisters and he wants to run a business that will provide for them, leaving a legacy he can be proud of.
“When I’m dead, the only thing that’s going to be left is my legacy. I want to leave a legacy for my family and community,” Taylor said. “I want them to say, ‘he was a good guy, he took care of his people.’ At the end of the day, that’s all there is. It only matters what you leave for those going forward.”
UP Radiator and Auto Service is located at 6904 27th St. W. and is open 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. For more information, call (253) 565-4165 or visit www.upautoservice.com.