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Keeping core values

Shop aims to do the right thing first—and then worry about profits
Thursday, March 3, 2016 - 09:00
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A change in name and business model doesn’t necessitate an alteration in attitude. For one, Lake Arbor Automotive and Truck is still owned by founder Dana ToPoel — ever dedicated to environmental and community concerns, and always abiding by his mantra: “do the right thing for you [the customer], every time.”

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At a glance:
Lake Arbor Automotive & Truck
Dana ToPoel
Westminster, Colo.
No. of locations
Years in business
9,400 square feet
Shop size
No. of bays
No. of customer vehicles per week

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NAPA Auto Care Center, Bosch Diesel Service Center, RepairPal Top Shop, AAA, ASA, BBB, ASE, ADS, North Metro Chamber of Commerce
Shop affiliations

After working at various tire stores and dealerships, in 1992 ToPoel bought his own facility, a failing emissions testing business prosaically called The Emissions Clinic. Taking advantage of the clean air initiatives being encouraged throughout the state of Colorado and his home city of Denver, ToPoel expanded the shop’s capabilities from mere testing to repair, becoming an expert on making cars run clean. He was so successful that he eventually became an advisor to the state.

“Back then we were out of attainment on carbon monoxide,” ToPoel recalls. “And before the days of OBDII they were having trouble with people being able to accurately diagnosis and repair cars. My success rate was very high, like twice the volume of the next best shop. So I worked with (Colorado) to develop their protocols for an accurate diagnosis.”

Demand for his expertise proved a double-edged sword however; by 1995, dissemination of his protocols meant that The Emissions Clinic was out of the gasoline vehicle testing business. “You can either keep being against them or you can find out how to help them,” he rationalized. “I joined forces and said ‘ok, let’s participate in the IRA book, let’s get some training, let’s do the best we can to make lemonade,’ and I managed to do just that.”


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