WESTMINSTER -- Gorham Business Park's newest additions seem to be fitting in nicely.
Catamount Truck & Trailer Repair set up shop at 7668 Route 5 on Jan. 1 and Service Director Jim Austin left his previous employer to help run the new enterprise, which operates in conjunction with sister company Catamount HD Parts & Equipment at the opposite side of the business park's building. The new businesses share the location with at least five other tenants, including Vermont Custom Cabinetry and United Puett.
"I've known most of these guys in excess of 20 years," Austin said, adding that everyone cooperates and even shares tools and equipment. "Everybody works together here. It's a great work atmosphere."
Gorham Business Park is next door to Le Studio Gymnastics and Dance and across the street from Bellows Falls Union High School's Hadley Field.
Catamount Truck & Trailer Repair works on any vehicle -- including chippers, log trucks and passenger buses -- more than 26,000 pounds. There currently are four men working on the floor, though the company is interested in adding another trailer mechanic. Austin, who has been in the industry since 1981, said whomever is hired will need to have all the proper certifications; factory training and experience are also preferred. Catamount has its federal and state inspection licenses, so employee John Quist said all mechanics must be conscientious, because a lot of responsibility rests on their shoulders.
"When we send something out on the road, we're as responsible if there's a problem and someone gets hurt, as the driver is," he said. "Our basic business plan is to provide a good value with quality service. We're kind of strategically located between a lot of the receivers around here, like C&S down in Brattleboro ... Grafton (Village) Cheese. A lot of trucks pass through this area."
On the other side of the building, Catamount HD Parts & Equipment buys straight from the manufacturers and sells to the local community. General Manager Ryan Melendez said his inventory includes clutches, brake drums, alternators and starters.
"Predominately, everything we sell is made in America," he said, adding that he takes a lot of pride in that fact. "Right now, our big customer base is all the farmers, all the agricultural people, all the loggers and all the trucking companies, the fleet programs.
"We're the only true local parts warehouse that's owned and operated," he continued. "We're putting back into the local economy."
Austin said this industry runs entirely on reputation, especially at the local level.
"Most of the customers, like Allen Bros., and the other ones, some of them, we grew up with, we went to school with, we raised kids with, went to football games together and gymnastics and all that stuff," he said. "It's a pretty close-knit community. The trucking industry is not as big as people like to think. People really know each other and that's where reputation comes in."
Catamount Truck and Trailer Repair can be reached at 802-732-8193 while its sister company's phone number is 802-732-8150.
Domenic Poli can be reached at email@example.com, or 802-254-2311, ext. 277. You can follow him on Twitter @dpoli_reformer.