Louie’s Alignment has long been the go-to place in Greeley for alignments, brake jobs and later full-service repairs, but on June 26, the last car to be repaired was backed out of the three-bay garage and the doors to the business were closed. For good.
“I just couldn’t fill his shoes,” said Karen Doll, referring to her husband, Jay Doll, who died unexpectedly in November. “I couldn’t move the volume needed to keep the business going and profitable.”
Louie’s Alignment and Brakes was opened in 1983 at 1621 1st Ave. by Louie Doll and it didn’t take long for the business to gain a reputation for being honest and trustworthy.
“He was very much an honorable man,” Karen said of her father-in-law, who died in 2015. He was a big role model. He could be a smart aleck, but he was also laid back and a very good teacher.”
One of his best students was his son, Jay, who began working with his father shortly after high school graduation. Jay took over the reins of the business when his dad retired in 2012.
“Jay followed in his footsteps. And then some,” said Karen, who ran the paper end of the business from their home. “They fed off each other and balanced each other. They both had a strong belief in God, and they didn’t take any baloney from customers, staff or vendors.”
Jay and Karen’s son, Zach, 19, began working at Louie’s about six months ago. He’s now looking at career options that don’t include fixing cars.
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“And that’s what your dad would want,” Karen said to Zach, who was standing by her side.
Louie’s always operated with just three mechanics, Karen said. After Jay died, it was just Zach and the lead mechanic, who, Karen said, worked nights and weekends to try to keep the business afloat.
But no one could match the volume of repairs Jay turned out, Karen said.
“I didn’t realize how hard he worked. If a job was scheduled for four or five hours, Jay could do it in half that time,” she said.
But there were a few occasions when even Jay was stumped by what caused a vehicle to malfunction or not function at all. One time he spent hours on YouTube searching for solutions, which he eventually found.
Karen said neighbors would often hand Jay their keys so he could drive their cars to work, repair them, and return them at the end of the day. And if people had questions about how to fix their cars, he wouldn’t hesitate to offer advice.
“The entire Doll family wants to thank the community,” Karen said. “They’ve taken care of a very big family.”
And for Karen, and other members of the family, it’s time to move on.
“In all honesty, I don’t want to do it without Jay.”
— Luanne Kadlub covers business for The Greeley Tribune. Connect with her at email@example.com or (970) 392-4439.