In 1954, Joe Salerno came to Orchard Park with the goal of opening a small auto repair business. He and his brother, Tom, became partners and rented a building on Ellicott Rd. from Ed Laks, then known as Laks Motors, an automobile dealership. It was a large building, complete with a showroom, parts department, and automobile shop with several bays.
Joe changed the name to Salerno Motors, and was soon establishing his own business. Joe worked diligently at establishing a successful business in Orchard Park. On June 30, 1956, his tireless efforts vanished when the building burned to the ground. The fire was so large that flames lit up the sky, and Joe could see the sky glowing from his home in Hamburg! There was an unfortunate error in his fire insurance policy, and Joe had no insurance coverage. He was left with nothing more than a pile of smoldering ashes, and four completely destroyed customer vehicles. Joe used his family funds to replace those vehicles.
For the next year, Joe went to work for West Herr Ford of Hamburg with no hope of rebuilding his business. One day, Bill Abbott, owner of Richardson Milling in Hamburg, asked Joe why he wasn’t re-establishing his business. After replacing the four burned vehicles, Joe had no funds to rebuild his business.
Mr. Abbott used his influence and had a loan of $28,000 cleared for Joe through a local bank. He also offered his own money to help Joe out, which was sealed with a “gentlemen’s handshake.” Joe had that kind of a relationship with his customers. They knew he was an honest, hard-working individual.
In 1957, again with the help of his brother Tom, Joe Salerno rebuilt his business slowly, purchasing all the tools necessary to start the business all over again. From that point on, the business grew and so did Joe’s reputation in the Southtowns. In the mid 1960s, Tom decided to leave his brother and open his own business closer to him in Silver Creek. Joe’s oldest son, John, joined the business in the early ’70s and expanded the services of Salerno Motors with his impeccable auto upholstery talents. John then expanded his services to boat and camper covers and cushions. In 1969, Joe’s youngest son, Dennis, followed in his father’s footsteps and took an interest in the family business. In the mid 1980s, Joe finally decided to slow down a bit and turned the ownership of Salerno Motors, Inc. over to his two sons, and was semi-retired.
Since those early years, things have certainly changed greatly. New services were added which include New York State inspections, wheel alignments, and air conditioning repair. Dennis has purchased some of the most advanced diagnostic equipment available for diagnosing and repairing today’s complex vehicles. The newest addition to Salerno Motors’ arsenal of tools is computer software that offers millions of pages of repair information, vehicle maintenance schedules, factory technical service bulletins, and much more to help service the complicated vehicles of today.
With all these changes, a few things still remain exactly as they were when Joe Salerno began his business in 1954. His reputation was built on honesty, hard work, and a commitment to the customer. These key ingredients worked back then and they still work today.
Please call us today at 716.662.9607 to set up your appointment.