WEST SERVICE CENTER
Sons David and Tom bring unique insight to the family business
by Krystal Alston
Sons David and Tom West at the front desk of the West Service Center
David and Tom West don't remember a time when the West Service Center wasn't part of their lives. David was just four years old when his parents, Debbie and Robert West, decided not to move with the Naval Air Station to Jacksonville, Florida, but instead expand their car engine repair business. Tom was only an infant, born in 1987, the same year the full-fledged business launched. Over the last 30 years, the two brothers have grown from little boys underfoot to co-owners of the operation.
When Debbie and Robert West founded West Service Center, they never imagined the lasting influence that the business would have on their two sons. Not only did it give the couple a way to support their family, it provided the framework on which their children's characters and futures would be built. The West brothers have spent their lives learning about integrity and customer service, and acquiring a variety of shared experiences that allow them to handle any situation.
David and Tom have accumulated a seemingly never-ending collection of unforgettable stories during their time at their family business. After just a few moments with them, one is engulfed in tales like the one about the old man with the van who was single for life, or about Ms. Mary with the eclairs. Their bond is cemented by days spent with Aunt Peggy, who served as the office manager, and the many employees who will always be family to them. By the time anyone leaves West Service Center, they know that David and Tom look upon it as a home away from home.
Two generations of Wests. From left: David, parents Robert and Debbie, and Tom
West Service Center is a family-run business providing quality automotive repair and towing services. Robert and Debbie West opened their first service center on Military Highway in 1987 with both their boys under the age of five. Now almost 30 years since they first opened their doors, Robert and Debbie are able to see just how much of an impact their service center had on shaping the lives of their children.
Both Tom and David have performed almost every job at the service center, like working on cars, going on calls in the wrecker, and working with customers at the front desk. Tom helps manage the center's day-to-day operations. He holds a business management degree and an automotive technology degree, and has attended a multitude of automotive and towing training courses. David has a Master's degree in information technology, and maintains the company's cutting edge computer systems while working a full-time job at a mortgage company. Both sons have been involved actively with the business since they were children, and bring new ideas to the company.
"Through the years, our family and business have grown up together," mom Debbie says with a satisfied smile. With the help of their two sons, Debbie and Robert have been able to offer personalized, dependable, high quality work that keeps their customers coming back time and time again.
David, the elder of the Wests' sons at age 33, reminisces about how the company gave him some of his most treasured childhood memories. Riding in the wrecker on calls with his father was a special treat. "I used to beg to go," David shares. "I got to press the buttons to turn on lights, and operate the controls." David also remembers learning how to drive at the service center. Both his and his brother's first cars came from the family enterprise. Many of David's most memorable childhood moments are intertwined with the service center.
The West brothers
have spent their lives
learning about integrity and
customer service, and acquiring a variety
of shared experiences that allow them
to handle any situation.
The West family hopes that their company will continue to be as family-oriented as it is today for many years to come. In fact, Tom, 29, has already begun to put this idea into effect. Under his watchful eye, daughter Isla, age 3, is occasionally allowed in the wrecker to blow the horn and turn on the lights. Neither he nor his little girl can imagine life without the West Service Center. Tom's wife, Shannon, is also a crucial part of the company. She works as the graphic designer for the service center. Their hope is that they can always share the values and the familial bond created by running a family concern, one generation to the next.
Tom has partnered the company with the Drive Safe Program to help educate drivers about staying safe on the roads. The service center also accepts car seats that are no longer useful and disposes of them properly. They assist local fire departments with towing to clear accidents from the roads, and they help train towing technicians. The efforts of the West Service Center are moving Hampton Roads toward being a safer place for drivers.
It is obvious that Robert and Debbie are proud of the lasting impression that being part of the company has had on their children. What they did not expect was the impact that their children would have on their company. David brings information technology ideas to the company that allow it to run more smoothly. Tom has become one of the service center's most dedicated employees. "The business helped us achieve a good quality of life, and gave us our understanding of the world. Without that, we wouldn't be where we are and who we are today," Tom says. Surely Robert and Debbie had no idea that their two little boys would become some of the most beneficial additions to their business. Having their children involved with the company gives them a kind of insight they didn't have before. "Working with the boys gives us a different perspective on how to tackle things. I think that's what makes us all feel closer. We always come back to that," Debbie shares.
Although Tom and David are now adults and have lives that sometimes reach beyond the service center, they both attest to the idea that the values they learned within their family business will always be with them, regardless of where they might find themselves. Robert and Debbie West created a lifetime of lessons and memories for their children when they decided to open the doors to the West Service Center. Tom and David are so grateful for it all, and aspire to pass it down to the next generation.
West Service Center
904 Cavalier Blvd
Chesapeake, VA 23323