25 years in business: Middletown auto repair owner has seen broad changes

Credit: Nick Graham

Credit: Nick Graham

Pete Esposito knows his way under the hood of a car.

For the last 25 years, he has owned an automotive repair business, first at the Meineke Muffler shop, then the business moved into the former Car X building at 1320 Elliott Drive in Middletown.

Then, 10 years ago, the business became independent and was renamed Integrity Automotive Service, he said.

“We truly try to hold to the name of the shop,” said Esposito, 64, a 1978 Fenwick High School graduate.

Since 2014, the business has seen “tremendous growth,” he said.

He credits some of that success to his company’s five-star reviews, the stability of his workforce and motorists owning their aging vehicles longer because of the rising cost of new and used cars, he said.

Just five years ago, he said, people owned their vehicles for 10 years. Now the average vehicle ownership nationally is 11.6 years and he estimates it’s closer to 12 to 13 years in Butler County.

Those added years of ownership mean vehicles are being repaired more than before because motorists believe repairs are cheaper than car payments, according to Esposito.

While that’s true, he said the cost of repairs also are increasing due to the cost of parts and labor. He said some dealerships are charging $160 an hour, while he charges $142 an hour.

“We try to have pricing that’s fair and that has led to a huge referral business,” said Esposito, who hopes to retire at the end of next year.

Esposito’s sons, Nick and Mitch, both Lebanon High School graduates, work in the shop along with a son-in-law, Camryn Givens, a customer service representative.

Nick is the manager of Integrity Automotive Service and Mitch is the assistant manager.

Five years ago, Mitch graduated from Sinclair Community College with an associate’s degree in automotive technology, a two-year program. Esposito said 15 years ago, the class graduated about 250 students.

His son’s class graduated 81.

“That’s a scary stat,” he said. “That shows young men aren’t going into this business.”

He would like to add another location that specializes in oil changes. But that means hiring technicians.

“Hard to find,” he said.

His shop has 10 bays and six technicians, all of whom have at least five years experience. He’s scheduling about one week out.

“Busy, busy, busy,” he said.

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