Inter City Spring Service & George’s Garage Ltd. is closing after nearly seven decades of repair service

One of the Sault’s oldest automotive repair shops is closing its doors this month.

Mark Nott, the current owner of Inter City Spring Service & George’s Garage Ltd., has made the difficult decision to say goodbye to his family’s long-running business on Sept. 15 due to some personal health challenges.

“I’ve been here for 55 years, and my body just does not want to be standing on these floors — and it tells me,” Nott says. “I’m really going to miss this place.”

For 68 years the garage has provided local and travelling motorists with a variety of automotive and repair services while supplying goods like springs, hitches, trailer parts, snowplows, hydraulic fittings, and hoses.

In 1955 Mark’s dad George Nott founded the original George’s Garage in behind the former Lou’s Esso on McNabb Street. Lou’s Esso is now McDougall Energy.

Five years later Nott made an agreement to purchase the former Steelton Spring Service near the corner of McNabb and Black Road. His family had been operating out of that location under George’s name ever since.  

“My dad was the only one that seemed to be able to get along with the previous owner,” he says. “This owner got really crotchety in his older years; he actually threw hammers at people. But my dad made a deal to buy the spring shop right away, and he got started here on the mechanical side.”

Alongside partners Harold Daynard and Charlie Thomas, Nott soon expanded the business and had overseen several changes that included a new addition to the building.

“My dad had taken on two other partners later, one of them being his secretary, Audrey Warth, who worked for us for over 40 years,” he says. “Bruce Hotchkiss was the oldest member and the backbone working man. Later, Fred Hotchkiss came over from the tube division and worked for us in the late ’70s.”

“His own shareholders often said he’d do his best sales pitches at the Canadian. Before I started here, he spent a lot of afternoons just going to the Canadian, and he met some of the best businessmen there. It became a ritual; they were all meeting and having lunch there at 1:00.”

Nott has fond memories of starting at the shop and working for his dad as a part-time employee in his early teenage years. His main job was assembling snow machines, which were a major part of the business from 1969 to 1974.

“We sold close to 250 Northway snow machines in five years,” he recalls. “They would come to us in crates, and we would assemble them. But that main snowmachine company died soon after.”

Nott also remembers his dad’s garage business booming, particularly in the ’60s and ’70s, when the spring service demand had heightened. At that time, George’s was one of the only places in the Sault where customers could get mechanical work done on big trucks according to the son.

“There were some mechanic shops around and several little gas station kinds of guys, but we got the majority of the traffic for coil springs and the leaf spring work,” he says. “There weren’t too many people involved at the time.”

Big area names like Great Lakes Power, PUC, and the city’s Board of Works were among George’s most visited clients over the years.

“We had all the better companies,” Nott says. “We were really proud of the fact that we were helpful to them and got them going fast. If you do good work in a timely fashion that nobody else can do, then they’re going to come back.”

“Today and then: time is money. It’s $10 more for a spring here compared to somebody else, but it’s happening now. It’s not happening in a week; it’s already in the house. And that was our reputation. We’ve always been ready.”

Nott had taken the reigns of the business before his dad George retired in 1990. He later partnered with his brother Keith, which lasted around 12 years.

George passed away in 2022 at the age of 89.

In recent years, Nott’s declining health sparked his decision to retire from the family business and ultimately close the shop for good.

“When I was 50 my doctor told me I had to stop,” he says. “I’m 66 now. I’ve spent 55 years working here, and it takes a lot of effort to do what we do.

“I really want to thank our customers and everyone who ever worked here. Some of us were here for a really long time. It gives me a warm feeling when I think about all of those people.”

Inter City Spring Service & George’s Garage Ltd. has been for sale for more than four years and is currently listed for $800,000.

The shop will close its doors for the final time on Sept. 15.

— SooToday

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