Badgley’s Garage Since 1947

By Jim Wilder
Undercar Digest Editor

Although a stranger may think of the post World War II era when he enters Badgley’s Garage in Lansing, Mich., the majority of the cars serviced there are less than 10 years old and the shop uses the latest in scan tools and other equipment to diagnose and repair vehicles. However, the shop is also known throughout the area for its skill in repairing classic and antique cars as well.
There are two constants that stand out at Badgley’s – it has been at the same location since the doors opened for business in 1947, and only family members have worked there, say brothers Calvin and Trevor Badgley, the family’s fourth generation of technicians.
Their grandparents, Harold and Lois Badgley, opened the shop, with Harold’s father Ernie lending a helping hand from time to time. In addition the couple’s three sons worked there. Harold and Lois retired in 1981 when son, Doug, and his wife, Judy, acquired the business. Their sons Calvin and Trevor took ownership in 2007.
Calvin points to yellowed certificates on the wall that show his grandfather was a licensed Chevrolet mechanic and his dad was among the first licensed when the state of Michigan started licensing.
“My grandpa also used to be the authorized Cadillac repair service in Lansing,” Calvin said. “Cadillac had just started up the road, but they were just a showroom. They didn’t have any repair facility and my grandpa was trained by Cadillac and was the authorized Cadillac man for the Lansing area.”
Although the business is well known throughout the city for all those, the two brothers can’t rest on family laurels. Both are ASE certified and the shop is an official NAPA Auto Care Center.
As business owners, the two make a pretty good team. Although both are well versed in all segments of repairs, the two do tend to divide the work when necessary. Trevor does more of the engine rebuilds, especially with the classics that come to the shop for work. Calvin does more of the drivability problems and computer issues and also handles the paperwork that comes with running a business.
“We actually get along pretty well now,” Calvin said, who took time for the interview while Trevor volunteered to run some necessary errands.
“We weren’t always that way but we do pretty good. It’s just not worth the arguing,” Calvin joked.
With Lansing being the hometown and manufacturing site of the once-popular Oldsmobile, Trevor and Calvin still have affection for the brand as do others in the community. Calvin’s everyday driver is one of the “Final 500” Oldsmobile Aurora models produced. Trevor is the proud owner of a 1969 Hurst Olds that looks as if it’s right off the showroom floor. Both vehicles are often parked out front and act as the perfect marketing tool to bring customers to the shop.
Nostalgia is an important theme at the shop. In addition to family photos and certificates on display in the office, the bay area is decorated with a number of large Oldsmobile and REO signs that once were on display at dealerships. Oldsmobile and REO were founded by Ransom E. Olds and the R.E. Olds Transportation Museum, commemorating the vehicle founder, is only a 5-minute drive from the shop.
One of the reasons the brothers get so much of the classic work is that they have the right tools and the knowledge they learned from their grandfather and their father.
“We have some of the specialty tools that it takes to work on Chrysler brakes from the ’30s, ’40s and ’50s, that nobody else in town has,” Calvin said.
“We have the specialty tools you need to set points and how to rebuild and adjust the floats on carburetors. Most people don’t have the tools or the knowledge or tools to work on them.”
Calvin and Trevor service an average 65 cars per month with an average ticket of $520. Calvin tempered that figure by saying the labor rate is $85 per hour but work on the classics and antiques sweetens the pot because of the extensive work that is sometimes needed.
The shop does most repairs with the exception of internal transmission work, AC and alignment. Those repairs are farmed out locally. “I have a few trusted shops that specialize in that and I trust them with it,” he said.
Marketing and advertising is limited to the company website, Facebook page and some advertising in local campus directories. The best source for new business comes from present customers, Calvin said.
“Honestly, I just let my customers talk for us. We give them a platform to advertise for us. They rate us on Angie’s list and Google. We had a customer a couple weeks ago call us up who had never been here before. They said we were the only five-star rated repair shop in the Lansing area and we had more reviews than anybody else.” In addition, the shop’s website includes a number of testimonials from customers.
Calvin said he and his brother succeed because of their skill level and how they treat people. “I feel sorry for customers when they have had such a bad experience elsewhere,” he said. “People are afraid because they don’t understand cars. We go out of our way to give them a positive experience here.
Nobody wants to go to the doctor, nobody wants to pay $1,500 a year for maintenance on their car. But they trust us. That’s one thing people understand with us. We’ve been here so long it’s not going to be that they come in one day and we are closed.”
Another word of advice from Calvin – be friendly with each other in the industry. The way we are today, in the world what it is, it is really sad to see shops attack other shops.
“We’ve been really blessed with about a half a dozen shops around us that are real good with each other,” he said. “We really work well together.”
Badgley’s Garage
304 S Clippert St.
Lansing, MI 48912
1. Badgley’s Garage, Lansing, Mich.
2. Calvin Badgley sits behind an antique roll-top desk at the shop. The bottom half of the desk was moved after the Lansing flood of 1975.
3. Trevor Badgley repairs a radiator on a 2002 Chrysler Concorde.
4. Calvin works on a U-joint for a 1985 Jeep Scrambler that is being rebuilt.
5. Certifications earned by the brothers’ grandfather and father are on display.
6 a, b, c. Oldsmobile and REO memorabilia line the walls of the shop bays.
7. Calvin poses with his “Final 500” Olds Aurora produced in 2003.
8. Trevor’s 1969 Hurst Olds looks as if it just came off the dealership showroom floor.
9. The brothers are working on the Jeep Scrambler from the frame up.
10. Calvin jokingly called this Dodge van they are working on “the Scooby Doo mobile.”