“Brilliantly New for ‘54”
Established in 1954 in what was originally a livery stable, Hub Motor Service is one of the longest-serving full-service automotive repair facilities and gas stations in Abbotsford.
The existing main building was built in 1958 and was expanded in 2000 to add more service bays. Their four gas pumps are full service and are open during regular business hours.
Located in historic Abbotsford, the family-owned business began as one of several downtown gas stations. In the 1950s, vehicles required regular servicing and filling stations acted as a neighbourhood hub.
“We used to see people weekly, now we see them annually,” said owner Ross Siemens. Today’s low-emission vehicles use higher quality oil and filters so vehicles require less servicing. The advent of all-weather tires lessens the need to change tires each season. While car maintenance is still important, tire rotation is also becoming a larger need, as well as specialized servicing for electric and hybrid vehicles.
Ross grew up working at Hub Motor Service and purchased the business from his father Jake Siemens in 1994. Ross and his wife Kelly have two daughters, Ashley and Alexandra, and in 2014 he was elected to Abbotsford City Council.
With five automotive service bays, Hub Motor Service maintains and repairs gasoline and diesel engines on most makes and models. They have strategic partnerships with suppliers and specialty shops, which allows them to keep their costs affordable. Their services include warranty-approved oil changes and maintenance programs, brakes, tune-ups, steering and suspension repairs, air conditioning and exhaust repairs and major engine repairs.
Hub Motor Service is celebrating its 65-year anniversary with an open house from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. on August 24 at their Essendene Avenue location.
In 1951, Peter and Mary Siemens moved to Abbotsford from Strathmore, Alberta with their 10 children. Both teenagers when they immigrated to Canada from Mennonite colonies in Russia, Peter and Mary met and married in Manitoba. Three years after moving to Abbotsford, Peter and his sons, including Jake Siemens who later purchased the business from his father, established Hub Motor Service.
Jake served customers for 56 years before retiring in 2010, although he still visits the shop when he is not volunteering, travelling, or spending time with his grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
August 24 is also Jake’s 80th birthday. Seventh out of 10 children, Jake was in high school when his father started Hub Motor Service and was a newlywed when he took over the business in 1965. He will be at the anniversary open house to visit with friends and customers and celebrate his birthday.
“Come In and Celebrate 65 Years”
In the 1950s, there were many settlers in the Matsqui Prairie who emigrated from the Netherlands and took up farming in Abbotsford. Before moving to Canada, Peter Siemens studied agriculture in Russia and spoke Low German, which is similar to Dutch. Hub Motor Service was a key location for many in the community and more than a few local farm kids worked the pumps over the years.
Long-term customers, long-term employees
Hub Motor Service is one of many unique small businesses in Abbotsford’s downtown that offer stand-out service higher-volume businesses can’t duplicate.
“This is the fourth generation of our family working here and we’re serving the fourth generation of some of our original customers,” said owner Ross Siemens. “We still have a couple folks well into their 80s who remember dealing with my grandfather when he first started the business.” He noted one longstanding customer, who is now retired, purchased his first vehicle from Siemens’ grandfather Peter and still only buys fuel from Hub Motor Service.
Along with numerous long-term customers, many of their employees are also long-term. Myron Warkentin, a fully licensed automotive technician and vehicle inspector, began working as a gas station attendant while attending high school and has now been with the company for 36 years. His son Michael also works at Hub Motor Service. For 13 years, service writer and service manager James Koop has worked for the family business, although it wasn’t until his vehicle broke down for third time in front of Hub Motor Service he finally asked for a job.
Of those employees who have moved on to other professions, such as accounting or firefighting, some will still stop by the shop to help out when they have a few extra days.
For 65 years the fuel and service station has been in the same location and has grown up along with Abbotsford. As a founding member of the Downtown Business Association, the Siemens’ family believes in empowering their staff to be involved in their local community and tries to support their commitments.
Hub Motor Service is a provincial inspection facility and has the latest technology in diagnostic equipment. Offering customizable maintenance programs and following the manufacturer’s maintenance schedule allows for worry-free driving. They also offer a conditional lifetime guarantee on brake linings, suspension parts, steering components and mufflers.
All four of Hub Motor Service’s gas pumps are full service and are open Monday to Friday from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.
“We have lots of bad-weather friends,” said owner Ross Siemens. “People love to come here when it’s cold and wet.”
In addition to the convenience of staying dry while fuelling up, gas customers often top up their fluids and have their tire pressure and oil checked at the same time. The full-service station is inclusive of those with mobility challenges, people who want to catch up on emails and texts and parents who would rather not leave their children unattended while getting fuel.
Hub Motor Service owns their land and can negotiate agreements with fuel suppliers to suit their needs. Their current supplier is United Petroleum.
As a service-oriented small business, Hub Motor Service tries to keep repairs and maintenance affordable by working with their customer’s unique needs. Their fully-licensed mechanics make themselves available to discuss repair options with customers and even go for road tests to ensure they hear the noise a vehicle is making. While they employ the use of the most up-to-date diagnostic equipment, artificial intelligence lacks wisdom and can’t diagnose noises.
“We look at the entire situation, how they’re using their car, and suggest good solutions for their needs,” said Ross Siemens, owner of Hub Motor Service. “We build relationships with our customers—we don’t want them to spend money unnecessarily.”
With vehicle safety as their top priority, the team at Hub Motor Service makes sure to learn as much as they can about a vehicle and their customer’s day-to-day driving needs before recommending services.
Despite many changes as Abbotsford’s downtown has experienced economic declines and resurgences over the years, the independent family business has thrived is because they have stayed focused on serving their customers and have adjusted to the times.