Handing over the reins

(Left to right): Sharon, Chris, Carole and Keith Appicelli pose for a photo in front of the company's trucks on Thursday. (Ashlyn Korienek/ News Advocate)

(Left to right): Sharon, Chris, Carole and Keith Appicelli pose for a photo in front of the company’s trucks on Thursday. (Ashlyn Korienek/ News Advocate)

Appicelli business transitions to next generation

MANISTEE — Local resident Keith Appicelli has worked alongside his son, Chris Appicelli, ever since he was born. Now 54 years later, Chris is carrying on his father’s legacy and working to build his own.

On Nov. 1, 1963, Keith, and his wife Carole, bought a garage at 201 W. Parkdale Ave. in Manistee — the start of the then Appicelli Sales N Service Inc.

“I was working at the Ford garage in Onekama as a mechanic at the time, and this building became available,” Keith said. “So we came here and bought it.”

Previously, it was known as the Parkdale Garage.

“We took on the Dodge dealership, and Studebaker stopped around 1965,” Keith said.

“We continued Dodge until 1969, when we went with used cars, wreckers and a repair facility.”

Carole said starting a business was the perfect opportunity at the time. For years, Keith worked many 24 hours days as a first responder to accidents.

However, Keith was ready to sell the garage last year and take on a new step in life. His son was the perfect person the carry on the business.

“It’s great to keep the business in the family,” Keith said.

Chris, and his wife Sharon, bought his father’s business on Oct. 1, 2016. The garage is now known as

Keith Appicelli (left) and his son Chris Appicelli stand in front of the wreckers in December 1994. (Courtesy photo)

Keith Appicelli (left) and his son Chris Appicelli stand in front of the wreckers in December 1994. (Courtesy photo)

Appicelli Towing Recovery and Auto Repair LLC.

Keith and his son Chris have a long history working together at the garage. It all started with Chris going on rides in the wrecker when he was merely a baby.

When he was older, Chris helped out after school and worked two-years co-op with his father during his junior and senior year in high school.

“I used to ride with my dad when I was a baby in the wrecker,” Chris said. “When I was a kid I’d clean floors and wash the wreckers. I started doing oil changes until I could drive, then I could do mechanical work and got my license.”

When he graduated, Chris went full-time at the garage in June 1992. He ran wrecker calls and worked as a mechanic.

“We are more like best friends,” Chris said. “But my father treated me like an employee when I was younger. When we got home it was father and son time.”

Throughout the years, Keith and Chris built a wide-range of clientele from across Manistee County and even the state.

“We did the (local) police cars and state police cars since 1963,” Keith said. “We did Dial-A-Ride buses until they had their own garage.”

Since taking on the business, Chris said the company sign will be replaced to reflect the recent name change to Appicelli Towing Recovery and Auto Repair LLC. The building and most of its features are still original.

Dedicating time to his passions, Chris said the company is going to focus more on towing and stick with basic auto repair.

“We are going to get heavier in the towing,” Chris said. “We do an awful lot of long distance towing. Just last week we had one to Traverse City and another to Ann Arbor, so there’s a lot of 500-mile trips.”

The company has seen years of partnerships with the Manistee County Sheriff’s Office, Michigan State Police and others in the community. Chris said the support has made this new opportunity possible.

“I owe it to the customers who are staying with me, especially during the transition,” Chris said. “Rob Henry, commercial loan officer with the Manistee Shelby State Bank, actually helped me with my loan to make this happen. I’m grateful for their support.”

For the time being, Keith is helping Chris with the transition. However, he plans to travel, practice woodworking and other projects in the future.

Handing over the reins to Chris, Keith and Carole said they are grateful to the customers for the past 54 years who helped make the business a success.

“There were a lot of good people in town that were faithful to us,” Carole said. “We owe it to them.”



Posted by Ashlyn Korienek

Ashlyn is the cops & courts and city reporter for the Manistee News Advocate. You can reach her at (231) 398-3109 or akorienek@pioneergroup.com

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