It’s a Friday night and born and raised Rupertite Frank Repole is getting ready to meet with some of his favourite people in his shop. It’s time to have their end of the week beer.
He is as modest and as local as they come.
Repole has been sponsoring Prince Rupert since he got his Red Seal in automotive mechanics in 1981.
Repole, owner of Frank’s Auto Repair, set up shop in Prince Rupert, hires local and makes sure to sponsor every single sports team that exists in the city.
Repole got involved in the auto industry when he was only 14 years old working on weekends and after school at Yellowhead Auto Repair, owned by his eldest brother.
He began cleaning tires and other equipment as his brother, who was the licensed mechanic of the family, got to do all the fun stuff.
Under his brother’s tutelage, he learned the trade and graduated with his Red Seal. Fifteen years later he opened up his own shop which is now going on its 24th year.
|Repole has been working on cars since he was 14-years-old. (Jenna Cocullo / The Northern View)|
Being a business owner can be a daunting task but for Repole it is a piece of cake if you love what you do.
“At first it was hard but if you like what you do, you deal with it and keep on working,” Repole said. “Being an owner you get to train and there’s a lot of other stuff you get to do with it.”
The hardest part of the business for Repole has been employee retention, having lost more than six people to PRPA alone. He is the starting grounds for Rupertites before they move on to bigger things. But not even that phases him.
“But that’s just a part of life and you can’t blame someone for wanting to make a lot more money with less work,” he said with a shrug of his shoulder as if nothing can bother him.
Repole is a humble individual, shy to speak about himself with his face lighting up when he talks about the great work his employees do.
Rupertites won’t see Repole rolling around town showing off in a flashy car. His very first was a $100 1960 Chevy Bel Air obtained at the age of 16.
“It was a beater with holes in the floor. I think I totalled it but I had fun with it. Back then the rules were more laid back,” he said. “I don’t think I’d have a nice car at home like a hot rod. Now I just have a GMC truck.”
Repole has been working on cars for approximately 40 years. So many have come and gone that he does not even remember the first car he fixed.
“I fixed lots. Just pick a number,” he said.
Repole loves his work but only at work. He does not think about it when he pulls up in his driveway at the end of the day.
When he’s not fixing cars Repole likes to get in his GMC and drive to his cabin by the lake in Terrace.
“The North is beautiful so I enjoy it here,” Repole said.
Fishing and riding his jet boat are some of his main hobbies along with playing curling in the winter and watching some hockey.
Sports was a large part of Repole’s childhood and the reason his office walls are full of photos from the local hockey, slo-pitch, volleyball, basketball teams — and any other sports one can think of.
“I pretty much try and sponsor everything. I was a kid once,” he said.
|Repole has been sponsoring almost every local sport team under Prince Rupert’s sun since he began his career.(Jenna Cocullo / The Northern View)|
Repole recalled when he was a kid playing hockey, soccer, baseball and squash, and the sponsors from back in his day who helped out all his teams. If a kid wanted to play sports but there were no sponsors they didn’t get uniforms and other necessary equipment.
“It’s good for the community to have sports for the kids. It’s not much but it’s something I can try and do for them,” Repole said once again being humble, ignoring the fact that hockey alone is a $500-$600 sponsorship.
“I love to play sports. You meet beautiful people when you’re out there playing sports so it’s a really good social thing to do. I still see people I played minor hockey or baseball with when I go to Terrace, who I played with when I was a kid. Just great memories.”
Repole’s son and daughter both followed in his footsteps and played hockey as well. His son, and Rampage player, Judd Repole, 22, is following in his dad’s footsteps even further with the auto trade.
“I enjoy my job even more now because I get to hang out with my kid and the Rupert boys so it’s even more fun.”
Repole plans to train his son to one day take over the business so he can drive away in his GMC to enjoy his cabin by the lake as he plays some golf and watches some sports.
In the meantime, it’s another Friday and he has plans to pop open another beer as his employees, current and past, trickle in to have a chat.
“This is what makes it all the fun,” he said.
Jenna Cocullo | Journalist
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