Our family story begins back in 1979 when two best friends, John Fontaine and Leon Watkins decided to do some body work in their spare time. This was the start of J & L Auto Body. In 1992 Leon found himself without.a job as the Subaru dealership in Keene closed suddenly while he was on vacation. With no appealing options or jobs available Leon decided to open Leon’s Auto Center.
In 1995 both businesses were thriving. John and Leon quickly discovered that both of their flourishing businesses were quickly running out of space and being located seven miles apart was becoming a headache. Plans and sketches were drawn up, land was purchased and a new home was built.
Thanks to our dedicated professional technicians and tow operators, we were able to form valuable bonds with our customers. We have always considered our customers as family and treated them as such. John and Leon were great supporters of all things local. They enjoyed sponsoring school sports, local clubs and associations.
Thirty-five years later both John and Leon decided that it was time to retire. The new owners Benjamin Russell and David Philipkoski are excited and working hard to keep the same family friendly, honest and reliable services flowing.
In an interview with The Monadnock Shopper News, David and Ben expressed that nothing will change in terms of service, quality and customer satisfaction.
“There’s been a “changing of the guards” so to speak, at Leon’s Auto Center and J&L Auto Body at 600 Main Street (Lower Main Street) in Keene.
Now under new ownership, this 35-year-old business is forging ahead to offer the same great services that the people of Cheshire County have come to rely on.
“Everything that Leon’s did then, we do now,” says Ben Russell, about the business he purchased with David Philipkoski, who is now the chief financial officer at the auto center. “We are the largest independent (auto center) in the area, and we are truly a one-stop shop.”
Russell started working in the auto industry in his youth and built a reputation among his peers as being a great technician. He met Philipkoski during his younger years when he worked for the David Ford dealership on Marlboro Street which Philipkoski owned.”
In the 14 years that Ben worked at the Ford dealership, he became a Ford Senior Master Technician and earned numerous ASE Master Certifications. Ben was a dedicated employee who enjoyed learning and pushing himself to be the very best.
"Russell worked at David Ford until the dealership closed in 2010, which at that point Philipkoski “retired.” Russell started working at Leon’s Auto Center and J&L Auto Body where he flourished. Enjoying the auto industry as he does, Russell saw “opportunity knocking” when he caught wind that his employers – Leon Watkins and John Fontaine – were looking to sell the business. He contacted Philipkoski and the two collaborated to formulate a business plan.
“I worked with Ben for 14 years. So I knew his work ethics,” Philipkoski says, about uniting with his former employee. “He is really driven.”
“Leon Watkins and John Fontaine have built a very successful business, and Ben Russell and David Philipkoski are committed to keep it going strong,” adds Jackie Stromgren, the business office manager and employee for over 13 years.
Customer service and satisfaction are first and foremost at Leon’s Auto Center and J&L Auto Body. This becomes very apparent by the number of community “Best of Monadnock” votes year after year – ranking Gold for the categories of Auto Body, Mechanic, and Towing. This locally owned and operated auto center is all about community, and has been behind many local non-profit group activities, such as Pumpkinfest, Monadnock Humane Society, Keene Youth Hockey, Toys for Tots, and others.
The service department at this local auto center is fully equipped with the latest in auto care technology, which allows the mechanics to provide everything from safety inspections and lube/oil/filter changes to engine and transmission repairs. Leon’s Auto Center and J&L Auto Body also have two certified diesel technicians.
The professional technicians in the auto body shop at Leon’s Auto Center and J&L Auto Body provide customers with expertise to perform anything from minor dents to major collision reconstruction, and they work directly with the customer’s insurance company to handle the repair.
Leon’s Auto Center and J&L Auto Body carries a large inventory of cars and trucks priced to move. Visit www.autofixers.com to see the inventory. There is also a Car Finder area on the Web site to search for a specific make, model, and year.
And, for those who need help selling their car, the sales team at this local auto service business will handle everything for customers through the auto center’s consignment program.
Leon’s Auto Center and J&L Auto Body hold Wreck Master Certification, which is the highest standard for the motoring public, providing professionalism and leadership for towing and recovery operators across North America. The professional towing team is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week for towing and emergency roadside assistance.
For more details, call 603-357-7004.”
In line with what John and Leon had started, Ben & David continue to support the local community. They have donated thousands of dollars to local community organizations as well as helping the Keene Fire Department practice their automobile rescue extrication techniques. This community is their home and they are dedicated to serving it and making it safer one vehicle at a time.
Come in and experience why we are voted number one in The Monadnock Shopper and The Keene Sentinel Reader Choice Awards for Auto Service, Auto Body, Used Car Sales and Towing again and again!
Article & Photo credit: Monadnock Shopper News
Leon’s Auto Center, J&L Auto Body
New Owners, Same Great Service
One Call Does It All
By Lori Catozzi Cook
Liz came to Leon’s in 2014. Before coming to Leon’s, Liz worked for 18 years as an A/R and Accounting clerk for David Ford. Liz enjoys gardening, antiquing and also loves spending time with her family and especially her grandchildren.
© 2016 Leon’s Auto Center and J&L Auto Body
600 Main Street, Keene, New Hampshire 03431 | (603) 357-7004
Free local shuttle service available
We accept Visa, MasterCard, Discover,
American Express, Cash & Check & GE Capital.