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Respected auto mechanic hangs up her wrench

Margaret Williams reflects long and hard at her impressive career as owner and mechanic at MAR Automotive over nearly the last 35 years.
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CALLING IT A CAREER – Longtime St. Albert resident Margaret Williams is a 71-year-old auto mechanic and former owner of MAR Automotive in Riel Park. She recently sold the business and plans to retire.

Margaret Williams reflects long and hard at her impressive career as owner and mechanic at MAR Automotive over nearly the last 35 years. Now in her early 70s and having just sold the business, she comes to retirement after earning many clients with her impressive work under the hood, and earning many friends out of those clients.

Just like it is with cars, business hasn’t always been easy but she always managed to keep it running. She offered her deep appreciation to those customers but mostly she said it was her faith that she relied on to get through all of her struggles.

“I credit God for his strength and how he’s helped me,” she said.

Margaret had already had lots of experience as an auto mechanic when she married Ralph Williams, a veteran of the Second World War. Starting up the shop – MAR stands for ‘Margaret And Ralph’ – was a natural fit for them both.

That was in the early 1980s, a time when the economy went into a bad recession. This made it especially tough for many businesses – especially tough for new businesses – to make a go of things. Her skills and his attitude proved to be a positive force that helped them overcome the bad times.

“I’m a great organizer and arranger. He was a great mentor and encourager. He was a real optimist. That was his attitude in life. Ralph would say, ‘It will all work out. You’ll see.’ I’ve held on to that.”

The couple struggled at every turn but always kept it afloat. Even through Ralph’s ill health and passing more than 15 years ago, the business trucked on. The one thing that always provided a saving grace to MAR Auto: excellent service and customer relations. “Once a customer, always a customer” is the shop’s unofficial motto. Again, she was reverent to God for taking care of her through the tough times.

Now on the verge of retirement, what she calls “a repurposing” of her life, she offered her thanks and deep appreciation to those many customers and friends for how they have contributed wonderfully to her life. She also thanked many of the surrounding businesses that MAR has had dealings with over the years and saluted auto technician Matthew Blair for his many years of excellent service at the shop, too. She said she never could have gotten this far without him.

Margaret ended by noting how MAR Automotive’s reputation and friendly dealings with people have led to many generations of the same family – “grandparents, parents, children, and some grandchildren,” she said – coming to her shop for their auto service needs. The depth of her appreciation for all those people trusting her and becoming close is apparent.

“It’s pretty remarkable,” she continued, her eyes wet with tears. “I love people. My customers have become like family to me.”

Margaret Williams invites everyone to come to the open house to honour her retirement from 1 to 4 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 13. MAR Automotive is located at Bay 8, 8 Riel Dr.

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