If you haven’t had a vehicle repaired by Bob Banner or one of his sons, the odds are pretty darn good you know someone in Sooke who has.
After 40 years in operation, Banner, the founder and owner of Bob’s Repair Center on Idlemore Road, is closing for good.
“It’s sad to have to close after 40 years,” admitted Bob Banner, who owned the business with his sons. “It all started with my wife, Jeanne. I bought the property and built the building in ’86, and before that, I worked out of my backyard, starting in ‘72-73.”
“I got to know a lot of people along the way, served a lot of people, and probably the odd one was angry with me. I’m 86 now and fortunate enough to be able to sell it,” said Bob, who retired about 20 years ago.
Banner is proud that he was able to mentor his four sons, Greg, Ken, Steven, and Ray, for their Red Seal mechanics certification tickets along the way.
Greg, who began working with his dad after he graduated from high school in 1984, started out doing repairs in the family home yard with his father.
The brothers worked as mechanics at the Shell Station on Sooke Road before Bob’s Repair Center opened. The oldest brother, Steven, died of cancer, and another brother, Ray, had to stop working after an on-site injury at the shop, but Greg and Ken continued working until the official final day on May 31.
“I don’t think I would have lasted this long if it wasn’t for the opportunity to work with my dad and my brothers,” Ken said. “It’s been very rewarding.”
They have worked on just about every type of engine and vehicle, “Everything from lawnmowers to dump trucks,” Ken noted.
“If it had wheels, we pretty much worked on one,” Greg added. “Over the years, the feedback’s always been positive. It makes you feel good about what you’re doing.”
“Everyone who came in knows dad. We could probably do a television show with some of the characters we’ve met over the years. People who don’t know us through Bob’s Repair Center probably know us through fastball. We all played, and our kids played, and we’ve always been big supporters of fastball in Sooke.”
Greg said it feels like the right time to close the shop finally, and he’s ready to call it a day.
“When you have your own business, you don’t have the option of not going to work one day,” he explained. “I’m looking forward to peace and tranquillity and letting the body heal. It’s pretty demanding standing on concrete for 38 years. It takes its toll.”
A post on Facebook from a long-time customer describes their father as “honest to the core,” something Greg and Ken believe says it all.
The Banners invite anyone who would like to extend a final farewell to drop by on June 23, between 9 a.m. and noon.