Robinson’s serving Aurora for nearly a century
BY D.J. WANBERG For Sun-Times Media
Robinson Auto Repair is located at 2114 W. Galena Blvd. in a modern shopping complex on Aurora’s west side.
It has called its current location home since 1996. The building has everything needed to repair and maintain all makes and models of cars.
A look outside the building though doesn’t give one an indication of the long, rich history of the business and what it has meant to the city of Aurora. One has to go into the shop’s waiting area for that.
A page from the 100th anniversary edition of The Beacon-News in November 1946 is devoted to what founder E.H. Robinson created and the page hangs on a wall.
Robinson’s opened in 1913 in a location on LaSalle Street in Aurora. It then moved to a building at Broadway and Clark in 1918 and stayed there until 2002 while operating the Galena Boulevard location. Robinson’s also had shops briefly in Elgin and Oswego.
Doug Jorgensen is president of Robinson’s having moved up the ranks from technician to manager to owner over a 24-year span. He said Robinson’s formula for long-term success has been simple.
“It’s just honesty and good workmanship,” he said. Many customers at Robinson’s have been bringing their cars in for years and are known to the Robinson staff.
“There’s a ton of them (customers he knows). I don’t know how many. They walk in the door and it’s ‘How are you doing?” Jorgensen said.
Robinson’s is one of the oldest Firestone dealers in North America and Robinson was a friend of Firestone Tire and Rubber Company founder Harvey Firestone.
The business at one time didn’t just offer auto repairs. It was also part department store. Jorgensen said the store would bring in animals as an attraction to lure customers including one time a gorilla.
Bill Bonewitz, who owned Robinson’s from 1977 to 2003, said Robinson’s was opened on Sunday and many parents would bring their children in after church to visit the toy department.
Bonewitz actually worked for Firestone for over eight years and Robinson’s was one of his customers. He was then offered a job by Robinson’s and later bought the business from the family in 1977.
“It says a lot about a business with just three owners over 100 years. The philosophy of all three owners has been be treated like you would be liked to be treated,” said Bonewitz, who is now retired and living in Tucson, Ariz.