Ownership of a Highland business that has been a staple for appliance and automotive care has officially changed for the first time in 43 years.
Corey and Edie Frey bought Broadway Battery & Tire Services, located at 1001 Washington St., last month from Denis and Shirley Bellm.
“It’s big shoes to fill,” Corey Frey said.
Corey, who has been working in the automotive business for 10 years, has always wanted to own his own shop. Three years ago, he started working for Denis, who has owned BB&T since 1974. When they hired him, the Bellms said that they knew Corey would likely take over the shop one day, when Denis retired.
Retirement came earlier for Denis than he had anticipated.
“Unfortunately, it was a forced retirement for us. But at least Corey was there,” Shirley said.
For a little over a year, he has been battling myelodysplastic syndrome, a disease similar to leukemia that can only be cured through a bone marrow transplant.
Shirley said that Denis has been in and out of the hospital throughout the year. During that time, he has not been able to work. At first, Shirley said Denis felt like he was giving up one of his children when he had to walk away from work.
“He’s worked at that store since 1974 with very little time away and usually six days a week, 10 hours a day. He’s met a lot of really great people there during that time,” Shirley said.
But, she said, he is happy to have Corey carry on in his stead.
“He’s glad that he was able to share his experiences with him for as long as he did,” Shirley said.
But even away from the shop, Shirley said Denis’s bond with his customers has continued, as some of them have called or stopped in to visit him at home or the hospital.
Corey said his No. 1 goal as the new business owner is holding up the legacy of Denis’s outstanding customer service.
“I mean, he has done a fantastic job. He has always strives to take care of the customers, and that’s kind of a thing that I kind of wanted to continue with. He is an upstanding person,” Corey said.
The only change with the ownership is that closing hours are now at 5:30 p.m., instead of 7 p.m.
The business has retained all of its employees. And to regular customers, Corey said, never fear, long-time employee Diane Carrillon will still be there.
“She was part of the deal,” he said.
Update on Denis
Earlier this year, the community rallied to preform a BeTheMatch bone marrow donor drive in hopes to find Denis a suitable match for a transplant. In total, 194 committed potential donors registered during the three-hour drive. Registering Denis on BeTheMatch also helped him find a donor, though it was not from within the community. While the transplant can be set up for any time, Shirley said that Denis’s doctors are still waiting for him to get healthier before they attempt a bone marrow transplant.
Denis has been fighting bouts of pneumonia throughout the year. But Shirley said the presence of that illness has lessened and is not growing.
“Right now, it seems that out biggest goal, besides staying out of the hospital, is to get the lungs stronger,” Shirley said.
Denis visits the Siteman Cancer Center in St. Louis twice a week for blood tests and to see his doctors. He also works on keeping his strength up by walking a mile, three to four times a week, and he goes out to HSHS St. Joseph’s Hospital in Highland for physical, occupation and cardiopulmonary therapy.
“Where we go next and when we go is all up in the air yet,” Shirley said.
Denis’s doctors want him in the best shape possible before the can do the transplant.
“We totally agree. And so, we wait — and pray. We have so many people praying for us. (I) can’t imagine where we would be without that,” Shirley said.
At a glance
Business: Broadway Battery & Tire Services
Services: Automotive repairs, tire sales and service, major home appliance retailer, appliance repair
Location: 1001 Washington St., Highland
Hours: 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
Social Media: Facebook