The Front End Shop: A 35-year legacy of excellent service.
The FES was founded by Tony Thacker, and first opened its doors in 1984. Tony wisely based his business on the principles of providing the highest quality repair, along with excellent customer service. This legacy has continued through the years and is still in place today.
Originally from Yakima, Washington, Tony moved to Alaska in 1973 with the intention of attending UAF to become a wildlife biologist, but along his journey, he met a man named Rudy Voit. Rudy became not only a friend, but employer and mentor as well. Rudy taught Tony all about the art of tire balancing, and Tony took it from there, gathering knowledge and expertise in alignment and balancing. After 2 years, Tony was promoted to manager at Rudy’s shop. Tony continued to build automotive knowledge and honed his customer service skills. In 1984, he took the plunge, and opened The Front End Shop. The shop is still in its original location, located at 1432 University Ave. S., and has proudly served all of Interior Alaska from Manly to Tok, and south to Denali, for the last 35 years.
It takes a lot to be a good business owner. Including not only having top of the line equipment & technology, staying current on all certifications and trainings, but of course, also finding and hiring the right, trustworthy, people who reflect your vision for the business. Tony excelled in all these areas. With the help of Scott Powell, who was hired as a shop hand in 1984 and worked his way to being the master of his trade, Tony was able to build The Front End Shop into the premier alignment shop in the Interior.
In 2016, Tony felt retirement calling. At the same time, he also wanted to ensure that the legacy of excellent repair and customer service he’d built over 33 years continued. He wanted the business to stay in good hands, and with people who would take excellent care of the customer family he’d built through the years. After meeting with several prospective buyers, in January of 2017, Russ and Cindy Reason took over as the new owners of The Front End Shop. They are dedicated to growing The Front End Shop’s reputation of excellence. Being hard working people all their lives, Russ and Cindy value hard work, dedication, and quality work. They kept all the employees on staff and are continuing to build an awesome team.
Russ and Cindy are long time Fairbanksans, with a deep love for Alaska and Fairbanks in particular. Cindy graduated from Lathrop High School in 1984, worked as a travel agent for 13 years, and in the banking world at Denali State Bank for 14 years where she gained her management training. She loves helping people and getting to know her customers.
Russ grew up in farming and developed a lifelong history of building, restoring, and racing vehicles. He served many years in the USAF, four of these years he was assigned here at Eielson AFB. He left the Air Force in 1995 and began working with Napa Auto Parts in North Pole. Russ then went on to work for a couple other auto repair and tire companies, and for eight and a half years, worked as a heavy equipment mechanic with a local mining company just prior to purchasing The Front End Shop.
Scott Powell started at The Front End Shop shortly after it opened and has been a friendly, familiar face to regular customers for the last 34 years. He has probably worked on every one of our customers vehicles at least once if not more over the years. He learned his skills from Tony and as the shop grew, he grew with it. Over the years he has become a master of his trade and is an ASE Certified Technician. Scott sits on the committee that helped keep CTC Automotive program available. He has progressed from his long-term role as head technician to the shop foreman and is sharing his skills with the next generation of Technicians working with us. With his dedication and work ethics he has helped make this shop what it is today.
Gayle has been at The Front End Shop since 2009. She started as a service adviser in 1999. In 2014 she was promoted to Office Manager where she keeps the crew pointed in the right direction. She has a wealth of knowledge and is an excellent trainer for our service adviser positions.
Jackson started in August 2013 and in 2016 attended the automotive class at CTC. He got his start as a shop hand, helping with inspections and shop maintenance. At the end of 2016 he began technical training under Russ and Scott’s guidance. He cares about the quality of work that he does and takes pride in what he has learned over the years.
Atileo, also known as “Leo”, is our Service Advisor who began July 2018. He has completed South Seattle College’s Automotive Technical training program and worked as a dealership technician, working on vehicles, for four year. Leo has turned that working knowledge, and great personality, into a high level of customer service and satisfaction.
The Front End Shop was recently recognized as Alaska’s Napa AutoCare Center of the Year (2018). This is a distinct honor for us and wouldn’t be possible without our hardworking and dedicated staff. We are also in the middle of becoming a Napa Gold AutoCare facility to give our customer that next level of quality service and repairs. The team that we have in place now will continue to provide the quality service we have been known for over the past 35 years.
We want to thank the loyal customers that have shared some of this history with us and we want to invite new customers to please stop in and give us a try. We will make your experience enjoyable and get to know you and your vehicle over the years to come.