The automotive world has changed a lot since 1957.
Esso no longer puts a tiger in your tank. Foreign car makers have zoomed past Ford, GM and Chrysler. Joseph Boccanfuso died; his brother Dominick retired to Florida.
But — as it has since the days of tail fins and muscle cars — the name “Boccanfuso” means a Westport business you can trust.
Back in ’57 Joseph, Dominick and Christy opened their original Esso gas station in Saugatuck. The Mansion Clam House parking lot is there now, but for over a decade it sat proudly by the Bridge Street bridge.
Each weekend, the Boccanfusos raced their Plymouth Fury at Lime Rock. Every week, Dominick rebuilt the engine.
“They didn’t lose,” notes Giuseppe Boccanfuso — Joseph’s son.
In 1970 the brothers moved to the Post Road, next to what was then the state police barracks (now Walgreens). They added bays in the back for repairs. For 40 years the Boccanfusos have serviced and repaired automobiles, done body work, and sold used cars.
Since last October Giuseppe — just 24 years old — has run the operation. He grew up with the shop; worked there every afternoon while in Staples, and now carries on the family trade and name.
It’s not easy running a business in Westport, he admits. Toyota and Honda dealers — just to the west and east of Boccanfuso, respectively — provide stiff competition.
So Giuseppe tries to communicate with his customers on a more personal level. “I know their names, answer their phone calls — I’m with them from beginning to end.
“My name is on the front door,” Giuseppe explains. “I have to make sure everything is done properly.”
Giuseppe enjoys watching a car come in “smashed” — and leave “as if nothing happened.” He takes a hands-on approach to repair work, both because he likes it and so he can explain the process to customers.
Giuseppe is changing with the times. The popularity of hybrids means he’s searching for employees — and tools — that can service a new breed of cars.
“We don’t get hybrids yet — they’re still under warranty. But that’s the next wave,” he says. “We have to be ready.”
You can teach an old dog business new tricks.
“This is one of the most established places in town,” Giuseppe notes. “We do okay, even with the bad economy. It’s very satisfying to come in here every day.
“And to keep my father’s and uncle’s legacy going into the future.”