September 25, 2016

Clarks Auto — Hole in the Wall Greatness

Alan Boyer is a third generation auto mechanic. When he was a kid, mechanics used to dump used motor oil on the street to keep the dust down. Al now owns and operates Clark’s Auto Service, the most green independent mechanic’s garage in the Salt Lake Valley.

Clark’s Auto Alan Boyer and wife Michelle

“The amount of waste that’s generated by a shop is crazy,” Al states. Recyclable plastics are tossed in the garbage, toxic sludge leaches into the soil and unfriendly fluids are poured down drains. “There’s a lot that ends up in the Jordan River,” he adds.

For Al and his wife, Michelle, being green isn’t a trendy buzzword.  Eco-benevolent practices are their habitual norm, and the green focus of the business is a natural extension of their shared values. When Al bought the business almost two years ago, he identified ways he could align with what’s best for the environment and began customizing the shop’s routines.  Al started to research what Utah industry standards are for green garages and soon discovered that there aren’t any.  He then decided to create his own.

The first focus was to concentrate on green practices. Recycling both refuse and used fluids is now standard operating procedure. Parts are cleaned using a biodegradable,solution rather than solvent. “By getting rid of the solvent tank,” Al explains, “we no longer are regulated by the EPA, which treats solvents like hazardous waste.” The greening of the work environment came next. Clark’s has earned Salt Lake City’s e2 certification which recognizes the garage as an environmentally and economically sustainable business. “Knowing that we’re operating with a city that cares about what we’re doing is comforting,” Al shares. Clark’s recently installed solar panels on the shop’s roof. “When I flipped the switch,” he appreciatively notes, “one third of our electricity started coming from the sun.”

Product selection came next. Even though a company touts green technology it may not resonate with Al’s values, which is why he chose not to offer G-Oil, an engine oil manufactured in part from the fat of slaughtered cows. Al’s done the investigative groundwork and Clark’s sells what he has determined is the most clean motor oil on the market.

Al’s long-range vision includes providing services to convert people’s cars to natural gas and installing an on-site pump to sell gas. “If we converted half the cars in the valley, the air pollution problem would go away,” Al states.

The easiest component of greening his business is educating his customers. The hardest part, he says, is being dedicated and willing enough to spend the money on what he believes. “But we’re part of the community, part of the state, of the world, and it’s important to me to let people know that their money goes to helping make Clark’s greener. We’re pretty hard set on a vision, and we’re doing it right ,” Al maintains. “We’ve done one hundred percent of what we told people we’d do at the beginning.” He laughs and adds, “And we actually do work on cars and do a really good job.” Apparently so since Clark’s business has grown almost 300 percent in their first two years.

Clark’s Auto Service is located at 506 East 1700 South in Salt Lake City