From Worcester Magazine, August 16, 2018
In the 1900s, Willis Fuller’s work repairing horse-drawn buggies evolved into a passion for automobile ignition wiring. The Fuller Automotive Companies of Auburn, overseen by Chris and Josh Fuller, now operate at 505 Washington St. on Route 20 in Auburn. The ever-growing compound includes Fuller Automotive and Tire Center, Fuller Auto Body and Collision Center, Fuller Towing and SpeeDee Oil Change and Tune-Up. Altogether, according to Business Development and Marketing Manager Kerri Cunningham, the five entities maintain 56 full-time employees in 40,000 square feet of space spread between four separate buildings on 6 acres of land.
The Fuller family has effectively built a “one-stop shop” for all of your automotive needs. Each year, the Fuller Companies of Auburn sponsor a number of youth sports teams, in addition to contributing to local schools, groups and organizations. According to Cunningham, the Fuller family’s persistent involvement in the community is of the utmost importance to their continued success. Their efforts have not gone unnoticed. Fuller Automotive Companies of Auburn was awarded the Northeastern University Massachusetts Business of the Year Award in 2014, based also on pivotal contributions to their community and their proactiveness in hiring and training vocational school students.
What is your history with Central Mass?
JF: I was born and raised in Auburn, went to high school in Worcester and now reside in Grafton.
CF: I was also born, raised and educated (Holy Name ’93 and Assumption ’97) in Central Mass. Now I am living life with my wife Michele and our sons Adam, who is 15, and Trevor, who is 13.
Can you describe your career trajectory?
JF: I graduated Bentley University in 2001, then I worked at Liberty Mutual in finance and accounting. In 2003, I joined the family business at the collision repair shop.
CF: I was free to pursue an education and career, but there was an allure to coming into the family business. It provided me the best opportunity to live life on my terms. I would have never made it to my first lunch break in a cubicle.
How has the business evolved from the days of horse and buggy repairs?
CF: By the time we answer, we’d have to start over. The automobile has become so entwined with our daily lives, it’s a house on wheels. The latest and greatest of every facet in our lives gets replicated in the vehicles. Internal vehicle communication for vehicle adaptation is in place already, now it’s about removing all those heavy wires. We are just scratching the surface in personal transportation.
JF: Fuller Automotive was started in 1914 and is currently being operated by the fourth generation of the founding Fuller Family. Forward thinking has led to expansion of the business over the years; however, the commitment to always be striving to offer the best to our customers and community keeps the business’s roots strong and solid. This is the foundation of the company that it was built upon over 100 years ago.
What makes family-run businesses so unique in the automotive industry?
JF: Cars have a lot of moving parts, as does the family dynamic. Therefore, it’s a good fit because there are always multiple areas needing repair.
CF: We are driven by pride first and people before profit. I’m not great at math, but that equation has outlasted every business fad for 104 years. Owning and operating is a trade in itself, handed down. Our education for this came from being around it and being close to those involved.
How important are family traditions to the Fuller team?
JF: We strive to handle our customers in the same manner as our grandfather and father. Chris has a lot of these little stories.
CF: We spend a lot of time together, we just celebrated another FULLERFEST. Our employees are all pretty involved with each other as well. We have several relatives working together here too.
JF: We provide exceptional customer service to the people that have allowed us to continue to grow our brand.
CF: Ask our Courtesy Tech Adam, “What does Papa say?” I’ll bet the shops that he answers, “Work hard and be good to people!”
What is your favorite place to frequent as a family when you aren’t working on Washington Street?
JF: Cape Cod.
CF: It has made a generational transition from Lake Winnipesaukee to the Cape.
Is there anything else our readers should know about Fuller?
JF: A sister is the solution of two brothers having ADHD.
Your sister, Kerri Cunningham, did indeed do an excellent job wrangling the two of you to provide thoughtful answers. Thank you again for your time and all of the Fuller family’s hard work.