By Jack Rubinger
Terica Buckner is continuing Hawthorne Auto Clinic’s tradition of a family-owned woman-owned small business. Buckner takes the reins from original owners Liz Dally and Jim Houser this month.
Houser and Dally are well-known for being the go-to place for Prius owners here, although the Clinic also services Subarus, Audis, Volkswagens and other makes and models. The Clinic opened in 1983.
Buckner has been a fixture at the Clinic for 22 years, since she was a senior at Benson Tech. She took advantage of the school’s automotive program and continued on to Mt Hood Community college where she graduated from the automotive program.
A fish tank, toys for kids and locally-based reading materials are part of the cozy atmosphere at the Clinic. Through the years she’s seen how the Dally/Houser family has built the company, worked hard to create relationships in the neighborhood and invested in training and motivating employees.
She plans to focus on these themes and raise their social media presence with assistance from her husband Andrew. The Clinic is forging new alliances with organizations like Friends of Trees to keep the neighborhood green and alive. Working with the Hawthorne Boulevard Business Association is a goal too as the clinic regards its leadership role in the community.
“The automotive service industry is requiring the next generation of technicians to be skilled in diagnostic, computer and traditional repair and maintenance, so we’re always training our team and working closely with automotive programs at Mt. Hood Community College, Clark College and Portland Community College,” she said.
The clinic is an active member of the Association of Women in Automotive in Portland.
“This is a good place to work and a good place to work for,” she said. There are ten people currently working at the clinic.
As Houser steps away, he plans to get more involved in politics, local schools and encouraging youngsters to pursue automotive industry careers through programs at Mt. Hood Community College and Clark College.
Dally plans to become more involved at the Native Plant Society and volunteer at other local organizations as well.
Buckner has worn many hats at the clinic: technician, service advisor and bookkeeper. She said she’s “shocked” at how quickly the days have gone by.
Life is pretty full with a young baby and full-time commitments with the clinic, so the family will enroll young Emrys at the French immersion school in the Hawthorne neighborhood.
Great service is a key to survival in this industry, so the clinic makes things as easy as possible for stressed out car owners.
Customers are provided with TriMet passes so they can drop off their cars and take the bus downtown for work, understanding it can be a hardship for some to be without a car.
The Clinic helps arrange rentals and is considering a car sharing service. Another goal for the winter is a paperless software system to reduce paper accumulation, and email instead of printing reports.
“The neighborhood is growing and it’s more and more expensive to live here. We’re doing our part to extend the life of older cars as long as we can.
“At the same time, we’re seeing an increase in hybrids and electric vehicles and have focused technician training in this area as well,” Buckner said.
Homelessness has always been in this area so the Clinic collects toiletries for the homeless, gives out bus tickets and Sister of the Road tickets where folks can get free meals.
“I’m excited about our future and keeping the neighborhood vibrant and alive,” she said.
Hawthorne Auto Clinic, 4307 SE Hawthorne Blvd, 503.234.2119 hawthorneauto.com