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We’re in the relationship business’: Auto Clinic reflects on 30 years in Guelph

Don and Julie Hurren cherish the bonds they’ve made with the community

Since 1993, Auto Clinic has been a staple in Guelph for auto repairs, oil changes, tune-ups, and inspections. More importantly, they’ve been a place where relationships, friendships and lifelong bonds have been forged.

This month, Auto Clinic celebrates their 30th year in business. Opened by founder Don Hurren in 1993, it started as a doctor’s clinic of sorts for everything to do with cars. The man at the helm? “Dr. Don” himself.

Don caught the automotive bug early in life when he and a neighbour tackled a small engine repair as a couple of kids just looking to turn some wrenches.

He was allergic to animals, which prevented him from getting into the livestock business like his father. 

His uncle was a mechanic, so the next-closest path to a career was in automotive repair. That childhood curiosity developed into a lifelong passion for Don, which spurred him to go out on his own later in life and open his own shop.

“I wanted to provide a service to the customer, genuinely helping them out,” Hurren said. “We run our business based on relationships. We have the ability to repair anything people bring us, but relationships are certainly important.”

Not only has the business transformed by leaps and bounds over the last 30 years, so has the automotive industry. Where Don and his staff used to work on carburetors and provide hand-written invoices, they’re now tackling advanced fuel injection systems, computer components, and hybrid and electric vehicles.

Along with his wife Julie, the Hurrens have been proud and honoured to work on the vehicles of folks who live, work and play in Guelph. One reason people keep coming back to Auto Clinic is the familiar faces they’ve seen for the last three decades.

“We like to say that we’re in the relationship business at our shop,” Julie Hurren said. “We have a relatively small shop. When you come in the front door, the first person you’re meeting is Don. You’re talking to somebody who has a long-standing relationship within the automotive world and the community, and that’s the person you’re talking to.”

Auto Clinic has always been forthright and upfront with their customers, providing quotes up front and educating customers about which services or repairs should get taken care of soon, and which can wait. There’s no upsell or pressure from their technicians.

Some clients have been with Don for the entire 30-year history of the business. They’ve been fortunate to have several multi-generational customers bring their vehicles into the shop. It’s a surreal feeling for the Hurrens to meet the grandchildren and great grandchildren of their original customers.

For Don and Julie, it’s more than just changing oil, swapping tires or fixing an alternator. It’s about helping people; whether that’s through solid, reliable maintenance, or when customers are in distress and need help to get back on the road.  

“The most satisfying thing is when you come to work and you’ve done your best to help everybody out,” Don Hurren said. “People that work for you and people that are coming in for services. It’s a pretty good feeling when you help somebody out.”

“It’s the people who keep you going,” Julie Hurren said. “It’s the people who give you permission to go ahead and hand their keys over. People who write a good Google review, or people who swing by to say thank you, because you helped them in a moment of crisis and you got them on the road.”

No matter what you need for your car, you can always trust Auto Clinic for friendly, honest, reliable service.

Visit Don and Julie at Auto Clinic, 3-775 Woodlawn Road West, or online. You can also book an appointment by calling 519-836-5680.