Tell us a little about yourselves?
We are a family run business. This is our 40th year of business. With hard work, dedication, and a great staff, we try to keep our clients happy by treating them well and being honest.
Takaki Automotive at one point worked exclusively on Japanese cars. You have since opened up to service cars from other automakers was this part of growing your business?
We started to work more on other automakers but specialized on Japanese. Kunio was the go to guy for these cars and had built a reputation with Japanese car owners and other garages. When we entered the Drive Clean program this did boost our visits from domestic vehicles. Also multiple car families not always own all Japanese cars so we saw a lot these cars coming in since they were pleased with our work on their Japanese car.
Since opening in the 80’s Takaki has undergone a number of renovations to expand your space. Why was it important to stay in the same location?
Takaki Automotive actually started in the late 70's. Kunio started the business with a modified ice cream truck in '76. He then purchased this garage in '81. The location wasn't the safest at the time, but has since flourished. We have seen the community around us grow and change, and being in this location for over 40 years has been great. "Mechanicsville" as it's called, housed many repair shops. It's central, and it's nice for the clients to a consistent location that isn't moving around and close to public transit and now the O-Train. It's convenient for clients who live outside our neighbourhood to leave the car and go to work nearby.
Your business is a family business how does this change the way you do business?
Not sure how it has changed the way we do business since this is the only way we know. Being able to trust each other helps us since we can focus on other aspects of the business and our great staff and clients
When you aren’t busy serving your clients and making sure their cars run well, what do you do for fun?
Kunio likes to expand his knowledge on eating healthy, he spends free time traveling and preparing meat free meals. Check out the 'Off Topic' section on the takakiauto.com website. There are some recipes there for everyone to see. We always try to eat together as a family, and even though our parents are retired (well, semi-retired), they still come in regularly for lunch 3 times a week. Maybe we should open up a pop-up restaurant, what do you think?
You have been in Hintonburg long before the neighbourhood started to transform has this changed your business?
We have seen more and more people come to the area, which is great, and we have many customers from the area. We have grown from a 2-bay garage to a 7-bay garage. This area used to be sketchy, the city has done a nice job of cleaning it up. It is much safer now and has a family-oriented vibe. We see ourselves as part of this community. This is, after all, a second home for us.
Do you have any favourite place to hang out for a coffee or lunch in Hintonburg?
We love the Happy Goat for coffee for its dog-friendly atmosphere. Kami, our resident doggo, enjoys stopping in on her walks. For a nice bite, Meatpress on Armstrong is a great family owned spot for grabbing a yummy soup and sandwich. The Third is also a great brunch spot on the weekend! There are so many to be able to list them all. We are thankful to be among great business in the community.
You have a dog at the shop?
Yes, we do! Kami is her name. She is a 5-year old shiba inu and has been here since she was 5 months old. She acts like a cat most of the time, and rarely gets excited to meet new people because she sees so many (so don't feel bad if she doesn't approach you!). You can usually catch her if you're walking by on Somerset catching some rays on the deck.
You have some fantastic mural art on your building. Who was the artist?
Arpi. He was great. Super nice guy and was even very helpful with cleaning up the overgrown brush on the O-Train side. He was very professional and passionate about the project, which was inspiring. He has a studio on Hamilton Ave if you're looking to commission him.
Does the art have significance?
He wanted to do something that reflected us. He kept the theme within the Japanese realm. The bird is the national bird of Japan, the green pheasant, along with bonsai trees, koi fish, and in the back corner is a rendition of a famous Japanese painting (the Great Wave). We are very happy with the result and hope everyone is as well.
As a business owner, what keeps you up at night?
The automotive repair industry is always changing. Independent shops like us are slowly being closed down because of manufacturers and dealers trying to keep their drivers in their building. We do our best to go to courses as much as possible to keep up with repair and maintenance side of the new technologies so we can continue to help drivers with their cars, old and new.
Do you have any exciting plans for Takaki Automotive in the future?
We are continuing to expand our business and have recently installed a large shipping container on site to help with tire storage, which we offered before, but now we have more space for our clients. We know it isn't the prettiest structure, but we are planning to 'beautify' it with paint and murals not unlike the building. Come to us if you're looking for tire storage! First come first serve!