Bloomington auto service business to close after more than 50 years

The building that houses Fred Groves Servicenter was constructed in 1931. (Google Maps)

By Greg Halbleib

BLOOMINGTON – A longtime Bloomington auto service center is closing its garage door for good.

Fred Groves Servicenter is closing on March 29 after more than a half-century in business according to Fred’s wife Sandy Groves. She said the automotive service industry has changed focus from repairs to replacement which led to the decision to close, plus Fred turns 80 in June and Sandy said they’re not getting any younger.

Sandy Groves said tire manufacturers don’t supply large inventories to dealers any more in lieu of same-day deliveries as needed, so that left the service part of the Servicenter.

“The tire business went away, so what we had was our auto repair business, which was very good,” Sandy said. “Now technology is changing that whole industry, too, so that with this type of an operation in this location, it’s time had come.”

Sandy said Fred’s focus in business has been to take care of his customers, sometimes to a fault.

“His problem was he (often) underestimated what it needed to do the job,” Sandy related. “As we got further along in time, he no longer really could do that and try to compete. That was just in his nature. If he knew of a way to fix something rather than paying big bucks for somebody to totally replace it, he would fix it.”

Sandy said the best memories from the long-time business came from the people, both customers and employees.

“He still has with him one employee who’s been him for almost 40 years, right out of high school,” Sandy said. “This person is the best mechanic auto tech anywhere around and we still have him with us. One of the reasons we tried to stay in business for so long is we were almost staying in business for our employees because they’ve done such good work for us.”

The Mansfield, Ohio native came to Bloomington in 1964 to manage the service station at the Main Street location for his in-laws. The business became Fred Groves Servicenter in 1968.

An open house is planned for the final day.

Greg Halbleib can be reached at 


Labor Day – Expanding voting rights for all

By Mike Matejka Because of COVID, there is no Labor Day Parade this year.  It’s always a great event for our everyday workers to march proudly down the street and enjoys the festive crowd. If there had been a parade, this year’s Labor Day theme was to be “150 years of struggle: your right to vote.” …

Is federal mobilization the answer?

By Mike Matejka As President Donald Trump threatens to send federal marshals into Chicago, over the objections of Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker, recall another Illinois Governor who protested the incursion of armed federal personnel into the city.   Those federal troops, rather than calming, escalated the situation, leading to deaths and violence. Illinois poet Vachel Lindsay…

In these troubled times, to my fellow white Americans

By Mike Matejka Our nation is at a unique watershed in human relations. African-Americans have been killed too many times in the past before George Floyd, but the response to this man’s death is international and all-encompassing. I was a grade-schooler during the Civil Rights 1960s. I watched Birmingham demonstrators hosed and the Selma – Montgomery…

Workers’ Memorial Day – Remember those whose job took their life

Looking around our community, when we say employer, most will respond to State Farm, Country, or Illinois State University.   We too often forget those who are building our roads, serving our food, or our public employees. COVID-19 has made us more aware of the risk.  Going to work every day for some people means…