Mechanic Craig’s in the driver’s seat of his new business

Craig Rowsell celebrating the opening. Photo Steve Hardy.
Craig Rowsell celebrating the opening. Photo Steve Hardy.

The customer is always in the driver’s seat, says Craig Rowsell, owner of Craig’s Leaside Automotive Inc.

The 52-year-old, who opened the garage doors on his new venture in the middle of February, says cars and trucks may evolve, but his priority has always been a satisfied patron.

“The minute you have some understanding of what you’re spending your money on, you feel more comfortable as to why you’re spending that money,” he says. “And that, for me, is the key part.”

Craig’s provides a range of automotive services, including oil changes, tire rotations, engine tune-ups and transmission repairs. As well they can help develop a maintenance plan for customers if asked.

“I love to fix things when I actually can figure something out that no one else can figure out,” he adds.

Service coordinator Shawn Bradbury, as well as technicians Jonathon Rebelo and Greg Perusits, round out the business’s crew.

“My goal, my passion is dealing with customers,” Craig declares. “Seeing the change in the industry and also making people aware of where it’s going.”

Craig began pumping gas as a teenager for Wally Clayson, who taught Craig how to over-service his customers.

Photo Steve Hardy.
Photo Steve Hardy.

“He said, ‘the customer comes in, they ask for $10 in gas, you wash the front window, you wash the back window,’” says Craig. “You ask if they want you to check under the hood. He said, you over-service people and they will come back to you for life.”

Count Rachael Feather and her family as big fans.

“We have been using Craig as our mechanic for 15 to 20 years now,” says Rachael, of Olde Yorke Fish and Chips on Laird Drive. “Both my sister and I and my parents all go to him. Craig is friendly, reliable, trustworthy and always does a great job. He’s the type of mechanic that you can trust is making the right decision for your vehicle’s needs, and will discuss in detail what the needs are and what can wait.”

Opening his own business was something Craig had been looking forward to for many years.

“It was just a matter of deciding: you know what, I literally just want to be my own boss,” says Craig, who was most recently at Master Mechanic in Leaside. While educated and trained to deal with the intricacies of the modern vehicle, Craig says there is always more to learn as the technology advances.

“If people are happy with the service, if people come back, refer a friend, refer two or three friends, I’ve done exactly what I’m supposed to do,” says Craig.

Leaside is home

Leaside holds a very special place in his heart for much more than business reasons.

“My wife (Gillian) grew up in Moore Park and we’re high school sweethearts; started dating in Grade 11.” The now longtime Leaside couple are parents to two adult daughters, Emily and Sarah.

The mechanic-business owner works hard to find a work-life balance. “When I go home on the weekends I have my family, I have friends, I’m president of a tennis club,” he says. “I play a ton of golf, I run a baseball team, I have a ton of other things to keep myself together.”

Craig’s Leaside Automotive ( is at 25 Commercial Road, Unit 10.


About Steve Hardy 4 Articles
Steve Hardy is a columnist for Leaside Life.