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Meet Mark R. Gagne of East Coast European in Greenland

Today we’d like to introduce you to Mark R. Gagne.

So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
East Coast European, LLC was started in 2006, it was the realization of a dream I had while working at a local auto dealership and another automotive repair facility. The idea was to provide dealership level automotive repairs at a discounted rate while having a personal and friendly atmosphere.

I grew up listening to my grandfather’s stories of hot rods and drag racing in the 1950’s. I still remember receiving several HotRod magazines as a stocking stuffer at Christmas, when I was around 13. I spent weeks looking at them and they certainly overshadowed the larger gifts. From that point on I was hooked. I spent much of my high school years in shop classes and working on a 1969 Camaro that I had purchased sophomore year.

After high school, I attended the University of New Hampshire, where I received a BS in Business Administration. Promptly after graduation, I secured a position as a financial advisor. I had the opportunity to work in the New York City branch, located on the 61st floor of Two World Trade Center. That time in the city was a unique experience for someone who graduated high school with a class of 37. I left New York August 30, 2001, to return and work at a branch located in New Hampshire, thus missing 9/11 by eleven days. It was something that drastically changed my priorities. I spent about another year in the financial services industry and decided it was time to do what I loved.

At this point, I knew I wanted to do something in the auto industry that involved working hands on. Unfortunately, I had no formal automotive training. I was able to get a position at a local Audi dealer as the “oil change kid” and I loved every minute of it. Management quickly realized I had some aptitude and sent me to Fast Tracks, an Audi training program. I worked at the dealership for several years before moving on to a performance shop, tuning Audis and Volkswagens. Another few years passed and I decided it was time to take the leap and open my own shop.

East Coast European started in a single bay of an industrial complex in Greenland, NH. I was extremely fortunate that my grandparents could help with some of the start-up costs and the rest, as scary as it sounds now, was done on credit cards. The first few years were very lean. Fortunately, we had some great customers, that took a chance on the new guys in town and without them, I doubt we could have survived. Many of them are still great customers and friends.

At this point, East Coast European has been in business for over eleven years. Each year is better than the last. I have been very fortunate, there are three of us that work together very well. Mark Ellis is our lead technician and has been part of the company since day one, his dedication and work ethics are amazing. Dillon Dickey runs our office and serves as a service advisor, he is my cousin and has been with us for eight years, after interning during his time at Keene State, where he majored in small business management. Their abilities allow me to spend most of my time out in the shop working and making my dream a reality.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
I am sure every business faces challenges, however, we have been very lucky. The first few years were often difficult financially and certainly made for some stressful times. After overcoming that, we now face more enjoyable challenges, mostly finding ways to be more efficient.

East Coast European – what should we know? What do you guys do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
We really focus on quality and customer service. We are a small shop, but consider the dealerships our competition. We service all makes and models and offer everything from state inspections and alignments to complete engine rebuilding and performance work. There are other shops that are less expensive then we are, however they can not compete with our parts and service quality. We try to make every customer feel like family, after all, they are the only reason we are able to do this.

What is “success” or “successful” for you?
That is a really difficult question..the definition of success is constantly changing. With each small success, comes a new goal.

Ultimately, for me, I guess it is as simple as being able to provide for my family while doing something I love.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:

Art and Science Photography

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