There’s a changing of the guard at a Sunbury automotive institution.
Frank Buffone has purchased TYREPLUS Sunbury from Michael Walsh, who has worked there for 36 years.
Mr Buffone, a qualified mechanic born and bred in Sunbury, said he had been in the automotive industry for more than 20 years.
“I actually started my apprenticeship on this block when I was 16, so I’ve known Michael since I was 16,” he said.
Mr Buffone said wanting to run his own show was one of the main inspirations for buying the business and he wanted to give something back to his hometown.
He said he approached Mr Walsh about 12 months ago asking if he was prepared to sell the business.
Mr Walsh said it wasn’t the right time.
Fast forward to earlier this year and Mr Walsh and his wife decided retirement was looking good.
The sale will be the end of a 36-year career that began quite by accident.
Mr Walsh said a puncture in one of his plumber employer’s vehicles necessitated a visit to the business all those years ago.
“A week later, I came back and I found the puncture still wasn’t repaired,” he said.
After discovering the business was facing difficulties, he decided to take it on himself.
“I thought I’d give it a go and … stay here 12 months,” he said. “It’s now been 36 years.
“We’ve thoroughly enjoyed the business … it’s been a very good business to us and our family.
“At any business, you get your down side on occasion, but other than that, the good sides more than outweigh the bad.”
Mr Walsh said he was proud to have kept a local business running for more than three decades, giving residents the opportunity to shop in their hometown.
He said even the introduction of big name competition in the industry hasn’t deterred his loyal customers.
“Sure, [it] put a little bit of panic in to me at first, but then I looked out the window – I could see the amount of cars,” he said.
“I’m not sure about the population in Sunbury, but I believe it’s up around or could be more than 45,000 people – that’s a lot of cars.”
Mr Buffone said TYREPLUS would continue to be family-owned business with a real community feel.
“Michael’s going to leave behind a great legacy and great history,” he said.
The change of ownership will come into effect from April 1.