PIQUA — An era came to an end this week as Terry Kinsinger, owner of Terry’s Service Station, wiped the grease and oil from his wrenches for the final time.
Even those who may not know Kinsinger are familiar with his business. His “throwback” SOHIO/BP station at 500 W. High St. in Piqua is recognizable, as it takes one back to the days of full-service gas stations with its authentic retro look from the 1960s and 70s.
Kinsinger, a 1964 graduate of Troy High School, knew from the time he was in school that he wanted a job working around cars. Little did he know when he took a part-time job working for service station owner Bob Fess that we would spend the next 51 years doing what he loved, all at the same location.
Fess quickly became more than a boss — he was a mentor and friend to the young mechanic. Kinsinger also became friends with Tom Zimpher, a part-time mechanic who worked first for Fess, then for Kinsinger, for more than 25 years.
Kinsinger credits Fess and Zimpher not only for their mentoring but for their friendships, which have endured through the decades. Zimpher had his vehicle on the service rack on Thursday, as he wished to be the final customer for his longtime friend.
Kinsinger purchased the BP-affiliated service station from Fess in 1999. At that time, the station not only serviced vehicles, but sold gasoline. Kinsinger believes that his was one of the last, if not the last, full-service gas station in Miami County.
Full-service gas pumps are one of the things that Kinsinger misses most about the job. “When I had to quit selling gas, that really distanced me from my customers,” said Kinsinger, who enjoyed interacting with customers most of all.
“I am just really pleased that I was able to have the health and the business to stay here for 51 years,” Kinsinger said.
The memory that stands out most for the business owner is the blizzard of 1978. “We had snow up to the bottom pane of glass,” said Kinsinger, “It was good for business, but it just about killed us. We got through it okay.”
Kinsinger is most appreciative to his many customers over his decades in business. “I could not have done it without them,” he said. “They have been so kind and loyal to me. Even after Bob retired, they stayed right with me. Their loyalty, they are not just customers, they are friends and I am going to miss them all.”
As for his retirement plans, Kinsinger said, “Hopefully, the building will remain the same. I don’t want to change a thing. My goal is to keep this place just exactly the way it was built in 1958. Maintaining the place is going to be my retirement.”
Kinsinger, who also lives on the property, will undoubtedly have a steady stream of friends to come hang out and talk cars with him.
Reach Mike Ullery at (937) 451-3335