Lilburn: Finding business ethics in a garage

For 17 years I have had two vehicles serviced at the Chevron service station at the intersection of Killian Hill Road and Lawrenceville Highway in Lilburn. I drive in and ask Bill Bristow, Harris Bristow or Mark Burnett to repair it, explaining what I believe to be the problem and why I think so.

If I don’t already know the price, we have an understanding that if the price will exceed X-amount of dollars that they will call me before beginning the work. I have been a loyal customer with the station for 17 years.

Bill Bristow acquired the station 17 years ago. When I first met the Bristow family, I became friends with Preston Bristow, the father of Bill and Harris.

We were the same age and veterans of World War II. Preston was a Marine assigned to a detachment aboard the USS Alabama. We spent hours reminiscing about the saga. We both manned 20 millimeter gun positions during battles.

During our conversation, I determined that their family business philosophy matched the policy I had maintained at York Furs during my career in the fur business: perform professional work and don’t ever lie to a customer.

Bill Bristow expanded on my philosophy. From childhood his father stressed integrity to his children, saying that a man is no better than his word. He explained emphatically that there should never be time or an inclination to cheat or steal; that truth, honor and ethics will be the hallmark of their business. Although Preston is gone, the Bristow family continues to be guided by their father’s dictates.

My sister-in-law in Athens was having difficulty with her car. She asked me where to take it. I said to bring it to Lilburn and have my friends do the repairs.

Upon returning home she called and said the problem, although better, still existed.

I said to call Bill Bristow. He apologized. He said that in order to not inconvenience her she should take the car to the Ford dealership in Athens and have the service manager call him, explaining that he would pay for the work.

How often do you hear that? I am tempted to ask Bill Bristow to run for Congress.

A disturbing attitude manifesting itself today is to get it now, even if it’s unethical. In jest, one of my teenagers, years ago, said his philosophy was to do unto others and then cut out. That concept lasted maybe two minutes in our home.

With training in the technology of modern automobiles, Lilburn Chevron has added services, including complete engine and factory transmission replacement. When car inspection fails, if it can be fixed, Lilburn Chevron will fix it there.

I see bays full every day at Bristow’s Chevron station, which is proof that being honest with customers is good business.

U.S. 29 is undergoing improvement in Lilburn. Even though inconvenient, the result will be an improved traffic flow.

Bill York of Stone Mountain is a novelist, freelance writer and retired furrier. Reach him at