Manahawkin Shell Tire and Auto Center Will Be Run By Former Longtime Manager

Jun 06, 2018
Photo by: Ryan Morrill

Manahawkin Shell Tire and Auto Center opens this week on Route 72 and the operator knows the garage well. Louis Buckley had worked there and at the affiliated Goodyear Quality Tire and Muffler for 24 years when former owner Bob Stohrer owned both facilities.

Buckley will need no introduction to many area residents, and he aims to show new customers the same service that earned the old Shell a trusted reputation.

The auto service center will host a soft opening (Buckley calls it a reopening) Friday, June 8, while the new owner and a newly hired technician finish outfitting the garage bays with new equipment. Official opening is Monday, June 11.

First, some background on the business history to get the public up to speed, since longtime owner Stohrer sold the Shell in August 2016. The subsequent lessee of the garage service bays, SBR Tire Too, is no longer there after a year and a half, and the service bays have been temporarily empty. (SBR Tire maintains its original location on Route 9 North in Manahawkin.)

Buckley found that he had the chance to establish himself in the Shell location where he had worked for so long, and is excited at the prospect.

Originally working for Sears Auto since age 19 and learning the trade there, he started with Stohrer at Quality Tire and Muffler in Manahawkin in 1992 as the service manager.

Said Buckley, “He opened Quality Tire II in Barnegat 10 years later and made me his store manager. I ran Barnegat for 10 years for Bob and when he sold the Goodyear stores in 2012 he handed me off to the new owners. I stayed with them for one year before reuniting with Bob at the Manahawkin Shell. Once again I stayed with Bob until he sold the Shell in August 2016. Since then I have worked for two other owners and when I heard that the Shell was available I wanted my chance to deliver the Quality Tire/Manahawkin Shell experience that I learned from Bob Stohrer.

“I am pleased to announce the reopening of the auto center at Manahawkin Shell. We are calling it Manahawkin Shell Tire and Auto Center. We plan on delivering the same old values and quality service that our customers are used to. We will feature priced-right tires, batteries and all automotive repairs.”

A petroleum company owns the property. The gas pumps are leased to operators separately from the garage. Buckley is backed by the petroleum company in running the auto center, which is the first for the petroleum company.

“Long story short, I inquired about leasing the bays,” Buckley explained. “They had said, ‘well, auto centers aren’t our business.’ After about two or three weeks they called me up and said, ‘we’ve mulled it over; let’s open an auto center. And we want you to run it; we believe you’re the face of Shell, with your long history with Bob Stohrer and your ties to the community.’”

Now it’s time to let customers know.

“A key part of any business is selling, but selling with integrity and honesty,” he said, adding that he wants women as well as men to feel confident they are being treated fairly.

“We want to treat women like I want my daughter, like I want my wife, my mother treated,” Buckley said. “I don’t want women to come in here and think, I’m a woman, they’re going to take me to the cleaners.”

A lead technician, Rick Collins, has been hired and will travel to and from Lakewood every day. Buckley will run the business aspect from the counter but he, too, will be in the shop servicing vehicles when Collins is busy.

Customers might end up talking baseball, especially Mets baseball, in addition to mechanics.

“I am a baseball/softball junkie,” Buckley proudly admits.

“I have a very passionate love of baseball; I have played hardball for half of my adult life. I’m a frequent flier down at the Mets Fantasy Camp – that’s when a bunch of guys that are Mets fans play baseball and you hobnob with all the former pros.

“It’s a lot of fun. I’m going this January to number seven. I would say it’s one of the more fun things that a guy who loves baseball can do. There are a lot of important things like husband, wife, childbirth, wedding and all that stuff, but this out and out is just a lot of fun.”

He loves baseball so much that he was inclined to write a baseball book, as he puts it. Curveball from Heaven, which can be ordered from the big outlets online, is self-published.

“It’s, you might say, a fantastical journey of a guy who has an experience where he gets knocked out, and he wakes up and he’s got these baseball powers; he’s got this pitching gift. He tries playing professional baseball and he makes it on to the Red Sox roster and gets to pitch a couple of innings.”

An Ocean County resident since 1976, Buckley and his wife live in West Creek, where they raised a family of five children. His sons played baseball and his daughters, softball, and he coached their rec teams and currently helps coach the 18-year-old daughter’s travel team.

— Maria Scandale






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