In July 2021, Arthur “Artie” Grazier pledged to rebuild his Sharpe Auto Repair in Lower Burrell after an overnight fire destroyed his business. Almost a year later, the owner of the auto repair shop has kept his promise.
“The most important thing is that no one was hurt and I will always be grateful,” Grazier said. Last June, Grazier not only re-opened its car and auto repair shop along Leechburg Road, but it now has a newly painted interior, new roof and more.
“It’s been a struggle since covid-19,” said Grazier, 59, of Upper Burrell. “Then the fire broke out. It’s like that.”
Given the setbacks, Grazier is happy. About 99% of his customers came back with a few new ones, he said.
“I was booked for two weeks when I was only open one week,” he said.
Part of the reason Grazier could reopen on the same site is that its owner wanted it there.
Erik Reifschneider said he wanted to rebuild because his family has owned the site since the 1940s.
First, the investigation into the cause of the fire took months, Reifschneider said.
The fire was caused by an office microwave oven that was not in use and malfunctioned, he said.
Supply chain issues for materials, particularly trusses and the roof, slowed construction of the auto shop.
There have been improvements: Reifschneider has installed larger doors that can accommodate a motorhome. Previously, mechanics had to work on these vehicles outdoors.
The auto repair shop building was part of a bus repair shop and another auto business. Menzie Dairy also operated a distribution facility at the site.
The site sat vacant for more than a decade before Grazier opened its auto repair shop in 2009.
He went looking for a site after opening a shop in Arnold which he said was in an “unfavorable neighborhood”.
He knew Reifschneider and his family, and the time had come.
Grazier has been tinkering with cars since he was little.
“I’ve always wanted to own an auto repair shop,” he said.
After holding jobs for Edgewood Steel and working in quality control for an aluminum manufacturer, Grazier grew tired of watching employers erode employee benefits.
He said he was happy to continue running his own auto shop.
“I love being self-employed and I love people,” Grazier said.
He has concerns about the future, he said.
“Some stores are closing,” Grazier said. “No one wants to do this kind of work anymore.”
There is a greater investment in the equipment needed and more computers to manage. And the automotive industry itself continues to change.
“Stores will have to be ready to work with more electric cars,” Grazier said.
After getting back into gear, Grazier is ready for anything.